Article appeared on Law360 on January 25, 2018, here:

Law360, Miami (January 25, 2018, 5:46 PM EST) — Diabetes patients suing Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP over diabetes drugs Onglyza and Kombiglyze told the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation in Miami Thursday that coordination on discovery has not worked well so far and asked to consolidate their cases in the Northern District of California. A trend in suits over diabetes drugs has been seen.

Timothy Clark of Sanders Phillips Grossman LLC, who represents one group of plaintiffs, said the cases share the same defendants, the same theory of liability and the same basic allegations and should be consolidated before U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar in San Francisco, who has already issued a few orders, including an e-discovery order, in a few cases being coordinated in the Northern District of California.

Clark noted that since filing the petition for consolidation to the JPML three months ago, the case has more than doubled in size, with a number of new lawsuits.

Alex Davis of Jones Ward PLC, who represents another group of plaintiffs, said discovery is set to close in less than a month but they haven’t gotten the discovery they need. He agreed with the choice of the Northern District of California, but offered the Eastern District of Kentucky as an alternative.

“Coordination is not working,” he said.

Phyllis Jones of Covington & Burling LLP, who argued for the defendants before the JPML, disagreed and said the cases can continue to be litigated on an individual basis as they have been for two years.

She told the JPML that centralization will “inject inefficiencies” and that the creation of an MDL can attract cases that otherwise may not have been filed.

“The number of cases hasn’t ballooned in the last two years,” Jones said.

The companies oppose consolidation, but if deemed necessary, they argued the MDL should be based in the Southern District of California before U.S. District Judge Anthony Battaglia.

Onglyza was introduced to the U.S. market in July 2009, while Kombiglyze hit the market the following year. The products are co-marketed by AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Onglyza is saxagliptin, while Kombiglyze is a combination of saxagliptin and metformin, which help control blood glucose levels. The drugs were marketed as treatments for type 2 diabetes, but plaintiffs say they come with significant increased risks of heart failure.

The plaintiffs argue that during the development of the drugs, the pharmaceutical companies failed to perform adequate studies to determine if their drugs caused increased risks of adverse cardiovascular events. They say the drug companies also failed to warn of the risks of heart failure and death.

In April 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration determined saxagliptin is safe after conducting an investigation but recommended new safety information be added to the drug’s label.

The FDA launched the investigation in February 2014 following a study that appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine in September 2013 that found saxagliptin users were hospitalized at a higher rate for heart failure than users of a control treatment. The FDA’s study did not find that saxagliptin users were more likely to die or suffer a heart attack or stroke than the control group.

The plaintiffs are represented by Timothy M. Clark and Lauren Welling of Sanders Phillips Grossman LLC and Alex C. Davis of Jones Ward PLC.

Bristol-Myers Squibb and McKesson are represented by Phyllis A. Jones of Covington & Burling LLP.

AstraZeneca is represented by Donald F. Zimmer Jr. of King & Spalding LLP.

The case is In re: Onglyza and Kombiglyze XR Products Liability Litigation, MDL number 2809, in the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.


Suits Over Diabetes Drugs