Judge to Allow Punitives in Levaquin MDL

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP

Startling new evidence has emerged in the Schedin v. Johnson & Johnson, et al. trial, a multidistrict litigation involving the pharmaceutical drug Levaquin, which has been linked to painful and debilitating tendon ruptures. The Minnesota federal judge overseeing the MDL has allowed for the unsealing of confidential documents that highlight the drug company’s willful disregard for the danger Levaquin posed, and the blatant manipulation of a clinical study to produce favorable results. In light of this new evidence, the judge also allowed for punitive damages, which can be used as a strong weapon to bring the defendants to a settlement position.

Levaquin is prescribed for bacterial infections of the lungs, urinary tract, and skin. In 2008, the FDA required that the labeling of Levaquin and other fluoroquinolone antibiotics be revised to include a Black Box warning about tendon injuries. At the time, the FDA database showed 262 reported cases of tendon ruptures, 259 cases of tendinitis, and 274 cases of other tendon disorders associated with these drugs. The majority of tendon ruptures – 61 percent – were tied to Levaquin. The agency said such injuries were more likely to occur in people who are over 60 years of age, taking steroids (corticosteroids), or who have undergone a kidney, heart, or lung transplant.

All federal Levaquin tendon rupture lawsuits have been consolidated and centralized in Minnesota as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation, under US District Judge John R. Tunheim. Plaintiffs claim the tendon injury warning should have been added to the Levaquin label earlier and remains inadequate. They also say Levaquin’s maker, Johnson & Johnson’s Ortho-McNeil-Janssen unit, downplayed the drug’s risk to boost sales.

If you or someone you know has experienced tendon ruptures after using Levaquin, you should contact an experience drug liability attorney to discuss your options and possible compensation.

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