Motions for Darvon, Darvocet Lawsuit Consolidation Opposed by Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals

Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Darvon and Darvocet, is opposing efforts to have all federal lawsuits involving the recalled painkillers consolidated in a multi-district <"">Darvon litigation (MDL). Though only five such lawsuit have been filed so far, it is expected that thousands of Darvon and Darvocet claims will be filed around the country by people who sustained heart injuries allegedly linked to the drugs.

An MDL would allow all Darvon and <"">Darvocet lawsuits to be coordinated under one judge for pretrial litigation to avoid duplicative discovery, inconsistent rulings and to conserve the resources of the parties, witnesses and the court. When lawsuits are consolidated as an MDL each retains its own identity. If the MDL process does not resolve the cases, they are transferred back to the court where they originated for trial.

As we’ve reported previously, the national <"">personal injury law firm of  filed one of the first Darvocet lawsuits on behalf of Karen Esposito, a 31-year-old Queens, New York woman who claims to have suffered a near-fatal heart attack shortly after using the drug. In December, the firm petitioned the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on Ms. Esposito’s behalf, seeking the consolidation of all federal lawsuits involving Darvon and Darvocet in an MDL in US District Court for the Eastern District of New York before the Honorable Jack B. Weinstein.

Two other plaintiffs have asked the panel to consolidate such lawsuits in the Eastern District of Louisiana or Western District of Louisiana.

Xanodyne has since filed a motion with the panel asking that the petitions for an MDL be denied. In its motion, the drug maker asserts that much of the evidence and discovery in the cases will focus on the individual health of each patient. The motion further argues that a consolidation could result in Xanodyne being held liable for injuries sustained by plaintiffs who took versions of Darvon Darvocet it did not make.

It is estimated 10 million prescriptions were written for the medications in 2009 alone, so the potential is there for the propoxyphene-Darvon-Darvocet litigation to be huge.

Both Darvon and Darvocet contain the active ingredient propoxyphene. Propoxyphene is an opiod painkiller that was first sold as Darvon in 1957. Darvocet is a combination drug made with propoxyphene and acetaminophen. According to Public Citizen, despite its widespread use, propoxyphene is not very effective, is toxic at doses not much higher than the recommend dose because a heart-toxic metabolite accumulates in the body, and is somewhat addictive. It has been linked to many thousands of US deaths since 1981, a large proportion of which were likely caused by cardiac toxicity, including the interruption of electrical conduction in the heart, the group said.

Public Citizen has petitioned the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) twice since 1978 seeking the removal of Propoxyphene products like Darvon and Darvocet from the market. Propoxyphene bans were announced in the United Kingdom almost six years ago, and in Europe, almost 1½ years ago. In January 2009, an FDA advisory panel even recommended that propoxyphene be banned in the US, but the FDA waited to act.

The FDA finally asked the makers of propoxyphene products to initiate Darvon and Darvocet recall in November, after a study conducted by Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Darvon and Darvocet, found it could cause an irregular heartbeat. This condition, called QT prolongation, lengthens the time between the Q wave and T waves, which are two of five electrical impulses that measure the regularity of a heartbeat. There are no symptoms of this condition, but it can lead to a potentially lethal rapid heartbeat called ventricular tachycardia.

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