As a pharmaceutical liability attorney, I’m very interested in the ongoing litigation over injuries allegedly caused by the antibiotic Levaquin (levofloxacin). Levaquin is part of a class of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones, which are often prescribed when penicillin-based antibiotics are not effective or the patient has a penicillin allergy. However, Levaquin is also associated with an increased risk of ruptured tendons and tendonitis—so much that the FDA a few years ago required its strongest warning on the drug’s label. This has given rise to thousands of lawsuits arguing that patients were injured because manufacturer Johnson & Johnson failed to adequately warn them about the risks of the drug. According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, the company revealed Oct. 30 that it has settled about 845 of those lawsuits; 190 more are in talks. More than 3,400 still remain in state and federal courts.
The disclosure came in Minnesota federal court, which is where 1,900 Levaquin injury lawsuits are consolidated. The settlements are not yet finalized, the filing said, but they will be within two weeks. The settlement amounts were not disclosed. However, the filing gave both sides reason to believe more settlements may be coming; it said the parties are trying to develop a standardized routine for considering settlements. Johnson & Johnson lost the first Levaquin injury lawsuit that went to trial, but won three more of the four. The lawsuits allege that Johnson & Johnson downplayed negative safety information about Levaquin because it interfered with sales, and should have added a warning about tendon rupture in the elderly before the FDA required the warning in 2008. A spokesperson for the company said it would continue to dispute the allegations in cases not involved in settlement talks.
What’s interesting about this news, from my perspective as a dangerous drug lawyer, is that Johnson & Johnson apparently believes they have a good chance of losing the cases they’ve selected for settlement talks. In general, companies settle when they believe they will spend more money defending or losing a case than the cost of the settlement. Thus, this could be an implicit agreement that the cases have merit. It could also be a signal that Johnson & Johnson wants the cases kept out of the public record as much as possible, which settling them confidentially would achieve. The underlying issue—injuries caused by Levaquin—is an important one, particularly to older people who are the most vulnerable demographic. Tendon ruptures take away the patient’s ability to walk and are very painful; they often require surgery to fix. In an older person, this can start a decline of health or independence, which is hard to reverse.
If you believe you’ve been injured by Levaquin or any other prescription or over-the-counter drug whose side effects weren’t adequately disclosed, you should call Carey, Danis & Lowe to discuss how we can help. Our defective prescription drug attorneys have extensive experience representing people who were hurt by medications they thought would help them. Because drugs affect the body in many ways, they can cause long-term or permanent injuries that change the patient’s life. Treating those injuries or illnesses can be very expensive. A defective drug lawsuit can help injured people collect the money they need to treat their injuries, adapt to them and be fairly compensated for their pain and trauma.
Carey, Danis & Lowe represents clients around the United States from offices in St. Louis and southern Illinois. To tell us your story and discuss your legal options at a free consultation, call us today at 1-877-678-3400 or send us a message online.
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