Cases and Settlements filed against Reglan
The number of cases against Reglan are on the rise day by day. There were 15 different lawsuits filed in 10 jurisdictions across U.S.A initially, and the number has risen dramatically. More than 120 cases have been filed in New Jersey state courts alone. The number is expected to rise further as more cases are being filed with the statute of limitations set to expire for several causes of action in February 2011.
In majority of the cases filed for lawsuits, the patients have been suffering from tardive dyskinesia, which is the most lethal and often irreparable side effect of metoclopramide. The New Jersey Supreme Court hence centralized all the Reglan lawsuits filed throughout the New Jersey state before Judge Carol Higbee in the Atlantic County. This measure was taken to eliminate or reduce any conflicts between the rulings, verdicts, and schedules in the individual cases.
The headquarters of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals (the prime defendant in Reglan litigation) is also situated in Atlantic County, and this was the main reason why an appeal was made to consolidate the cases here. Once the consolidated procedures are in place, the number of cases filed there are expected to rise even more, since the consolidated proceeding will make the proceedings hassle free and fast. Judge Carol Higbee, in an effort to centralize the lawsuits thereby preventing conflicting rulings, issued the consolidation order in November 2010. Under the terms of this order, the lawyers working on various cases will consolidate their input on various cases into a database. These procedures helped streamline and improve the management of all the cases involving Reglan and also helped to reduce the number of cases to 70. However, the number of cases nationwide is still expected to rise. Feb 26, 2011 marks the second anniversary of the “Black Box” warning that FDA required manufacturers to place on the Reglan packaging. Of course, not all Reglan cases are filed in New Jersey, and there are many more lawsuits working their way through courts in various other states like California and Nevada.
Though due to confidentiality terms and conditions, the awards in most settlements are not available, a few awards have become public:
1. Julie Demahy claimed that she wasn’t educated properly about the side effects of the drug by Actavis, Inc., an Iceland company. As a result she consumed the drug without worrying about the side effects and in turn suffered from a neurological disorder. The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in her favor by giving her the permission to sue the company in the United States.
2. Ron from Phoenix, Arizona was unable to sleep as his legs moved back and forth, involuntarily. After a series of tests, it was determined that Ron suffered from tardive dyskinesia, which was alleged to have been caused by the Reglan he was taking to treat his problem of heartburn.
3. Dawn Harris filed a suit on behalf of her minor child who has been diagnosed with tardive dyskinesia. Her face, arms and torso would move involuntarily, and the child has no control over the same. Harris claims that none of the companies who manufactured and sold the drug — Pharmaceutical Associates, Beach Products, Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals, and Wockhardt — made her aware of the potential adverse effects of the long-term use of this medicine. Not only did they hide this information, but they even encouraged long-term use of the medicine thereby concealing the drug’s hazardous side- effects. In the lawsuit filed against these organizations, Harris is seeking not only medical expenses, but she is also claiming damages for physical impairment and disfigurement, suffering, pain, loss of earning capabilities and cost bearing to pre- and post judgments.
4. Shirlean suffered from acid reflux and was prescribed Reglan, After taking the drug, she developed uncontrollable movements of tongue, mouth and jaw. The awards that Shirlean and Elmer Meade got from the jury verdicts have not been reported.
5. A woman from San Francisco got compensatory damages of $6.7 million in her jury verdict. The manufacturer in this case was Weyth, Inc., who was found to have failed to warn the consumer adequately about the adverse effects that the drug could pose.
Some 2 million people are estimated to be using the Reglan medicine in various forms like syrups, tablets, injections or disintegrating tablets. If a person feels that he/she is suffering from any of the side effects of the drug, it is recommended that a lawyer should be consulted to determine their entitlement of compensation, if any.