Third Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment for Pfizer in Zoloft MDL

A Third Circuit Court of Appeals panel recently upheld a lower court’s decision to dismiss plaintiffs’ claims at summary judgment in a multi-district litigation involving Zoloft, an anti-depressant manufactured by Pfizer. The MDL involved 315 plaintiffs alleging that Zoloft causes cardiac birth defects when taken during early pregnancy. The decision, which upheld an earlier ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, has both good and bad aspects for defendants facing pharmaceutical product liability claims. The plaintiffs introduced several expert witnesses…
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Court Refuses to Scrutinize the Sufficiency of Differential Diagnosis Analysis and Permits Causation Testimony in Absence of Controlled Studies

This past week, an Ohio federal court considered under Daubert the standard by which specific causation experts in drug and device cases are to be scrutinized. While the Court precluded the opinions of certain experts who did not engage in a differential diagnosis analysis before forming specific causation opinions, it stopped short of precluding one expert who engaged in what was essentially an incomplete differential diagnosis analysis, concluding the sufficiency of the analysis goes to the weight of the evidence and not its reliability under…
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Bellwether Trials Set in Mirena IUD Birth Control MDL

Selecting bellwether cases for trial is one of the most important strategic decisions a company will face in mass tort and multi-district litigation.  Currently, Bayer is defending approximately 123 lawsuits consolidated into an MDL in federal court in New York.  Some have made projections that the number of cases may grow into thousands – not an uncommon tactic in seeking to leverage larger settlement dollars. In addition to the MDL, there are approximately 200 cases consolidated in New Jersey state court. Mirena is a small…
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Preemption Defense Not Completely Dead for Branded Drugs

As all who follow drug and device law know full-well, the 2009 decision from the United States Supreme Court in Wyeth v. Levine represented a significant setback for brand-name drug manufacturers seeking to defend failure-to-warn claims on preemption grounds.  In Levine, the court held that state law failure-to-warn claims involving brand-name drugs are not preempted, unless there is “clear evidence” that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  would not have approved whatever labeling change forms the basis for the failure-to-warn claim.  Such a standard…
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