Multinational pharmaceutical conglomerate Johnson & Johnson has agreed to settle a chunk of lawsuits filed over its type 2 diabetes drug Invokana. One of several SGLT-2 inhibitors to hit the market in recent years, Invokana has been linked to an increased risk of foot and lower limb amputations, diabetic ketoacidosis, and acute kidney injury.
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In court filings on October 16, 2018, attorney Michael London of New York-based firm Douglas & London, P.C. asked a New Jersey federal court to establish a qualified settlement fund to administer the settlement of certain claims against Johnson & Johnson and subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals. London serves as co-lead plaintiffs' counsel in the multidistrict litigation, as well as representing his own slate of clients.
Nearly 1,200 Invokana lawsuits are currently pending as a consolidated litigation in the US District Court of New Jersey. Court dockets show that Michael London represents 142 plaintiffs in the multidistrict litigation. It is believed that the recent settlement will resolve all of London's cases. It is unlikely to affect the other cases.
London's court filing reports that defendants Johnson & Johnson and subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals "have entered into confidential master settlement agreements to resolve the actions, disputes and claims of certain claimants represented by [Douglas & London] relating to diabetic ketoacidosis, acute kidney injury and amputation injuries and losses allegedly suffered by those claimants in connection with Invokana / Invokamet."
Pursuant to the settlement agreement, Johnson & Johnson and Janssen Pharmaceuticals have agreed to deposit a confidential settlement amount into a qualified settlement fund, from which individual settlement sums will be distributed to the eligible plaintiffs. The court motion taps Archer Systems, an independent settlement administration firm, to handle the settlement fund. The settlement fund will be held in escrow by Deutsche Bank.
U.S. District Judge Brian Martinotti, presiding over the coordinated litigation, has said he will rule on the settlement agreements by November 19, 2018. If approved, the settlement of Douglas & London cases will be the first major resolution of claims involving Invokana.
More settlement agreements are likely on the way. The multidistrict litigation looked to be headed toward bellwether trials; Judge Martinotti had scheduled jury selection to begin in January 2019. But "in light of the tremendous efforts of the parties to achieve resolution for the various injuries claimed in this complicated multidistrict litigation," Martinotti stayed discovery in the cases, essentially stopping their progress toward trial to provide more time for concerted settlement negotiations. Discovery has been stayed until October 30.
Outside of the New Jersey MDL, Invokana cases remain pending in state courts in Pennsylvania, California and New Jersey. Class actions over the diabetes medication have been filed in Canada. In their lawsuits, plaintiffs accuse Johnson & Johnson of failing to warn the public of Invokana's risks, including an increased risk for lower limb amputations.
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