In November 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested that products containing the opiod painkiller propoxyphene be removed from the United States market. Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals Inc., which manufacturers Darvon and Darvocet, was the first company to comply. Xandodyne recently completed a study, ordered by the FDA, that shows propoxyphene can cause heart rhythm abnormalities in healthy patients at prescribed doses. These findings led to the FDA’s request for a complete market withdrawal of the drug.
This FDA action is expected to lead to thousands of lawsuits nationwide against the makers of propoxyphene products. In fact, Xanodyne has already been hit with what is thought to be the first such claim following the withdrawal request. Linda Gallagher, who filed a class action lawsuit in New Orleans district court, alleges that Darvocet caused her to suffer two heart attacks. Her complaint states that Xanodyne violated federal law by creating a harmful drug and also that the company failed to adequately warn consumers and medical professionals about the drug’s potential side effects. As the lead plaintiff in the class action lawsuit, she is seeking compensatory damages, medical monitoring fees, court costs, and attorney fees for all class members (who are expected to join).
If you have similarly been injured by propoxyphene, whether you took Darvon, Darvocet, or a generic form of the drug, you may also be considering taking legal action. And because your financial losses and pain and suffering are significant, you understandably want to know how much money you may be entitled to.
As more lawsuits are filed and they enter the discovery stage (where both sides gather and exchange information), and pretrial rulings are rendered, details surrounding the cases should provide more insight about the culpability of propoxyphene manufacturers, and how much they might be expected to be ordered to pay injured patients. But because the FDA announcement is so recent and only one lawsuit has been filed to date, at this stage settlement results can only be inferred from previous cases involving prescription medications.
The drugs Vioxx, Celebrex, and Bextra—which, like Darvon and Darvocet were found to cause heart complications and whose manufacturers faced charges similar to those filed against Xanodyne—provide rough examples of what to expect from forthcoming propoxyphene litigation.
Vioxx, manufactured by Merck & Co., Inc., is a pain, fever, and inflammation reliever that was withdrawn from the U.S. market in 2004 after a study showed it doubled the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Tens of thousands of plaintiffs sued Merck alleging that the company did not provide proper warning of the drug’s dangers and misrepresented them in marketing materials, and many of these claims were consolidated through a process known as multi-district litigation (MDL). The final settlement amount totaled $4.85 billion, and the actual amounts paid to individuals and their families ranged from around $5,000 up to $1.79 million. The average payment in all heart attack cases was $186,825, with fatal heart attack cases averaging $374,112. Stroke claims averaged $61,165 overall, with fatal stroke payments averaging $119,618.
Bextra and Celebrex, made by Pfizer, contain an active ingredient in the same class as the one in Vioxx, and the manufacturer similarly faced allegations that the products increased a patient’s risk of heart attack, stroke, and other potentially deadly health problems. Bextra was pulled from the U.S. market in 2005, while Celebrex remains available to the public after Pfizer updated its safety information.
Lawsuits alleged that Pfizer was guilty of false marketing, which parallels charges faced by Merck. In October 2008 Pfizer agreed to pay $894 to settle all Bextra and Celebrex lawsuits, including $745 million for injury victims. The average Bextra settlement was reported to be approximately $200,000 per claim, while Celebrex settlements were said to average $40-$50,000 per case.
The settlement results described above should not be construed as typical. The actual amount you might receive from a Darvon or Darvocet lawsuit, if any, will necessarily depend on the details of your case and court rulings that have yet to be made. But while we cannot guarantee or predict a settlement amount, we can certainly say that our full attention and resources will be dedicated to your case, ensuring the best possible outcomes. To discuss your case, contact us online by completing this short form or by calling the number below.