(Photo: Merck)

Michael Johnson of Johnson Becker in Minneapolis has been named lead counsel for coordinating depositions for plaintiffs alleging that they developed pancreatic cancer as a result of taking one of four incretin-based drugs.

On the defense side, Richard Goetz of O’Melveny & Myers was named lead counsel for coordinating depositions for Amylin Pharmaceuticals LLC; Nina Gussack of Pepper Hamilton lead counsel for Eli Lily & Co.; Doug Marvin of Williams & Connolly for Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp.; and Loren Brown of DLA Piper for Novo Nordisk Inc.

U.S. District Judge Anthony Battaglia of the Southern District of California is presiding over the federal multidistrict litigation.

According to the protocol Battaglia approved on July 29, objections to the admissibility of documents or their relevance during depositions won’t be waived and will be preserved pending a ruling.

Amylin faces lawsuits over its Byetta, Lilly for its collaboration with Amylin in the promotion of Byetta, Merck over its Januvia and Janumet, and Novo for its Victoza. Incretin-based treatments are prescribed to lower blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of that disease.

Deponents in the MDL can be cross-notified for any other Byetta, Januvia, Janumet or Victoza case pending in state or federal court, so they won’t have to be deposed again.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Mitchell. Dembin is deciding deposition controversies such as whether there is a good cause to take another deposition of a witness who already has been deposed in a state or federal court case that involves a MDL deposition cross-notice.

As of June, there were 440 cases pending in the MDL, according to court records.

Amaris Elliott-Engel contributes to law.com.