Johnson & Johnson has agreed to settle a large chunk of lawsuits over its diabetes drug Invokana.
In an Oct. 16 motion, Michael London, of New York-based Douglas & London, who is co-lead plaintiffs’ counsel in the multidistrict litigation in New Jersey, asked the court to set up a qualified settlement fund of a “confidential settlement amount” to resolve his inventory of cases.
The defendants, Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., “have entered into confidential master settlement agreements to resolve the actions, disputes and claims of certain claimants represented by D&L relating to diabetic ketoacidosis, acute kidney injury and amputation injuries and losses allegedly suffered by those claimants in connection with Invokana/Invokamet.”
U.S. District Judge Brian Martinotti of the District of New Jersey said he plans to rule on the settlement fund by Nov. 19.
London did not return a call for comment. A Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman and its lawyer, John Lewis of Tucker Ellis in Cleveland, did not respond to requests for comment.
It’s unclear how many cases are part of the settlement fund, but more than 1,000 cases have been coordinated in the multidistrict litigation before Martinotti, who is in New Jersey.
The settlements are the first substantial resolution of cases involving Invokana. The lawsuits claim the diabetes drug causes kidney failure and a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis, caused by the buildup of acids in the blood. Some suits have alleged the drugs increased their risks of amputations.
More settlements are likely. Martinotti had previously scheduled jury selection to begin in January 2019 in the first bellwether trials but vacated those orders in May. In August, the judge stayed discovery until Oct. 30 “in light of the tremendous efforts of the parties to achieve resolution for the various injuries claimed in this complicated multidistrict litigation.”
In addition to the MDL, cases over Invokana are pending in state courts in Pennsylvania, California and New Jersey, and class actions are in Canada, according to Johnson & Johnson’s Aug. 2 quarterly report with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
“The company has established an accrual with respect to product liability litigation associated with Invokana,” Johnson & Johnson wrote.