Johnson & Johnson and McNeil-PPC Inc. have submitted an application to have New Jersey cases relating to liver damage in individuals given Tylenol be centrally managed in New Brunswick, NJ. Citing judicial experience, cost, and the fact that the companies are headquartered in New Jersey – therefore meaning more cases can be expected in the area – the drug’s makers asked that all similar cases be centralized and coordinated.
Tylenol is still widely used, but in January 2011 a warning was issued by the FDA regarding all acetaminophen products.
The companies behind Tylenol have previously argued against federal consolidation. Multiple lawsuits allege that acetaminophen is responsible for major liver damage in patients even when used as directed, and that the companies knew about the risks yet failed to provide adequate warnings. At the beginning of April the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania approved a multidistrict litigation for the cases, and it is this which has prompted the companies’ new approach.
The application to the state Supreme Court for multicounty litigation cites efficiency and an eagerness to move forward as justifications for the move, continuing that “placing all the New Jersey Tylenol liver litigation cases before a single experienced multicounty litigation judge, who can formulate and monitor a pretrial discovery program and coordinate with the MDL proceeding, will advance judicial economy, reduce the overall litigation management burdens and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary.”
Cases have been filed sporadically over the last year or so, many before Atlantic County Superior Court - and now Johnson & Johnson and McNeill-PCC Inc. want Judge Jessica Mayer of Middlesex County Superior Court to oversee the collected lawsuits. “If there is to be a New Jersey forum for out of state plaintiffs who allege product liability claims against New Jersey corporate defendant, the forum should be where that defendant is located,” the application states.
Tylenol is still widely used, but in January 2011 a warning was issued by the FDA regarding all acetaminophen products, mandating box warnings about the potential for liver damage as well as a 325 mg limit on acetaminophen amount per pill. There were also concerns that patients on prescription medications containing the drug may unintentionally overdose if they also took Tylenol as they were unaware that it also contained acetaminophen. Dozens of cases have now been brought to courts.
Tylenol’s makers say that the dangers have been known about for many years and the FDA itself has deemed Tylenol safe on multiple occasions. They also argue that they have included proper warnings on all labels.
Comments on the application to have Tylenol liver damage cases centralized in NJ are due by June 10 to New Jersey’s Acting Administrative District of the Courts.