Number of Federal Lipitor Lawsuits Grows; First Trial Set for October

It is not too late for Oklahoma patients who have taken Lipitor to join the rapidly growing number of lawsuits across the country that allege that the popular cholesterol drug caused them to contract Type 2 diabetes.

The number of federal lawsuits against Lipitor’s manufacturer, Pfizer, has grown to 1,451, according to the most recent count posted by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.

Five months ago, in “Is Lipitor Worth the Risk?” I wrote about the increasing number of Lipitor lawsuits. At that time, 846 complaints had been consolidated into the federal MDL (MDL-2502, Re: Lipitor (Atorvastatin Calcium) Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation). MDL-2502 is progressing before US. District Judge Richard Gergel in the District of South Carolina.

Plaintiffs in the Lipitor lawsuits allege that:

  • They have contracted Type 2 diabetes as a result of taking Lipitor.
  • Pfizer did not warn doctors or the public about the increased diabetes risk associated with Lipitor.
  • Pfizer concealed information about the risk.
  • Pfizer continued to provide insufficient warning, even after ordered to do so by the FDA in 2012.

Lipitor is the No. 1 most prescribed drug in history, with a total of more than $140 billion in sales. Sales continue to exceed $2 billion a year even after generic equivalents hit the market in 2012. More than 29 million U.S. patients have taken Lipitor to treat high cholesterol since the FDA approved the drug in 1996.

In 2012, the FDA ordered Pfizer, as well as the manufacturers of other high-potency statins, to add warnings to their labels about the increased risk of diabetes, liver injury, memory loss and muscle damage.

Many of the Lipitor lawsuits have been filed by women, who may face a greater diabetes risk from taking Lipitor than men. A 2012 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine reported that post-menopausal women are especially vulnerable to the increased risk of diabetes associated with Lipitor and other high-potency statins. The 2012 FDA order to add a diabetes warning to the drug’s labeling was announced one month after publication of that study.

Date for First Bellwether Set

The Lipitor MDL’s first bellwether trial has been set for October 2015. From the hundreds of Lipitor MDL cases, twelve were selected to work through the initial discovery phase. This month, six of those 12 cases will be chosen — three by plaintiffs and three by the defendant — as potential bellwethers. One of those six will be randomly chosen for the October trial date.

Since most of the fundamental issues are the same in all of the Lipitor cases, the bellwether trial will serve as a harbinger for the other trials, possibly helping Pfizer and the plaintiffs identify common ground for settlement.

A status conference in the MDL is set for Dec. 18.

There is no cure for Type 2 diabetes. Complications include hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, hypertension, neuropathy, dyslipidemia (high cholesterol), retina damage, blindness and kidney disease. Diabetes patients must endure dietary changes, daily medication, continual self-monitoring and frequent doctor’s visits, as well as the possibility of hospitalizations, surgeries and death. Diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death in the U.S.

Lowering cholesterol reduces the risk of heart attack, stroke and heart disease. However, lower-potency statins, such as pravastatin (brand name, Pravachol), provide some of the same benefit while having a lower risk of causing diabetes.

More About Your Rights

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes after taking Lipitor, you should learn your legal rights, including the possibility of compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering. If it is proven that Pfizer concealed information about Lipitor’s risks, a jury may also award substantial punitive damages against the manufacturer.

Contact Hasbrook and Hasbrook for a free consultation by giving us a call (866-416-4737), sending an email (cth@hasbrooklaw.com) or using our website Contact Form.

For more information about Lipitor and the Lipitor MDL, see our webpage: “Lipitor.”