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MDL Sought for Darvon, Darvocet Lawsuits

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A petition has been filed with the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation seeking to consolidate all federal Darvon and Darvocet lawsuits in a single federal court. Darvon and Darvocet recall was announced in November by Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals Inc. after they were linked to serious and often fatal heart rhythm problems.

A multidistrict litigation 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 a multidistrict litigation, each retains its own identity. If the multidistrict litigation process does not resolve the cases, they are transferred back to the court where they originated for trial.

The petition for the multidistrict litigation was filed by the national personal injury law firm of Parker Waichman LLP on behalf of 31-year-old Linda Esposito of Queens, New York. Esposito recently filed suit against Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. According to her lawsuit, prior to using Darvocet, Esposito did not have a pre-existing cardiac history and had never suffered a cardiac arrhythmia. She was prescribed Darvocet in February 2010, and shortly after using the drug, experienced a near fatal cardiac arrhythmia. Her Darvocet recall lawsuit accuses Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals Inc. of negligence and fraud in not acting sooner to recall Darvocet.

Esposito’s attorneys have petitioned to have Darvon and Darvocet lawsuits consolidated in the Eastern District of New York before the Honorable Jack B. Weinstein. The petition asserts that the Eastern District of New York has the available judicial resources and the experience necessary to efficiently coordinate these actions. The petition points out that the Eastern District of New York is well-versed in handling mass tort litigations, and specifically, with handling pharmaceutical liability cases. The petition further contends that Judge Weinstein, who is already presiding over the Esposito lawsuit, has extensive experience with complex, high stakes and high profile cases, including mass tort cases. Judge Weinstein recently presided over MDL 1592, In Re Zyprexa Product Liability Litigation, which contained many similar issues being litigated in the Darvon/Darvocet litigation.

According to the petition, two other federal complaints making similar allegations and seeking almost identical relief have been filed in federal court in the Eastern District of Louisiana and the Western District of Louisiana. It is expected that many more similar claims will be consolidated in a class action lawsuit (Darvon and Darvocet suits filed by each plaintiff around the country will remain individual action even after consolidation).

Darvocet and Darvon are opiod painkillers used to treat mild to moderate pain that both contain propoxyphene as the active ingredient. In November, the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced that Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals Inc. had agreed to pull Darvon and Darvocet from the market after a study linked propoxyphene to serious and sometimes fatal heart rhythm problems. The agency was also asking makers of generic propoxyphene medications to pull those as well.

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