U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe, a Pennsylvania federal judge, dismissed 115 out of 117 cases that GlaxoSmithKline LLC (GSK) argued were outside the statute of limitations in the multidistrict litigation over injuries caused by diabetes drug Avandia. The ruling was announced on May 16, 2014.
Rufe said that all but two of the cases GSK claimed were outside the statute of limitations had indeed gone past their timeliness, and that the plaintiffs’ attorneys are at fault.
Rufe wrote, “Any responsible attorney should have recognized before filing that the claims were time-barred. The court has given plaintiffs the benefit of every doubt, but there is no question that the cases were untimely.” Of the 117 total cases, 103 were filed in Illinois, which itself has a two-year statute of limitations, according to Judge Rufe. The earliest Illinois case was filed in June 2013, about four years too late. Most of the other filings were similarly late, Judge Rufe said.
The only two cases that are still viable are those of Ann Emmert and Earl Gregory, according to Judge Rufe. Emmert is a Florida resident, where the statute of limitations is four years. Emmert allegedly suffered a heart attack in August 2004 and underwent bypass surgery in April 2010. Gregory is a Kentucky resident, where the statute of limitations is only one year. He allegedly suffered multiple heart attacks beginning “in or around 2011 to present.” In both cases, Judge Rufe determined that, at this time, “the record currently before the court is insufficient to enter summary judgment in favor of GlaxoSmithKline.”
The litigation stems back to 2010, when an investigative report from the U.S. Senate Finance Committee concluded that GlaxoSmithKline was aware of the possibility that the use of Avandia — a onetime blockbuster diabetes treatment — was correlated with increased cardiac risks, years before the risks became publicly known, and that the company failed to timely notify the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
GlaxoSmithKline has paid out billions of dollars to state and federal governments to settle claims of unlawfully misrepresenting Avandia’s cardiovascular risks and advertising without proof that the drug could lower cholesterol.
The case is In re: Avandia Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, case number 2:07-md-01871, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.