Consolidation of Chantix LawsuitsIn January 2011 it was decided that approximately 1,200 Chantix lawsuits are to be consolidated through multidistrict litigation (MDL) that will be under the control of U.S. District Court Judge Inge Johnson in Birmingham, AL. Lawyers monitoring the progress of these proceedings say that the number of Chantix lawsuits that were initiated in federal courts and subject to MDL consolidation may rise to more than 2,000 before the first lawsuits are returned for trial to the courts where they were first filed. Another possible outcome is that a Chantix lawsuit settlement will be reached with the defendant and a specific compensation amount will be announced.
An attorney in Birmingham has been appointed lead counsel for all of the plaintiffs who filed Chantix lawsuits in federal court. The lead counsel predicts that the earliest lawsuits are likely to reach trial sometime in 2012 unless a Chantix settlement is reached first. In such instances of MDL centralization it is common for the defendant to agree to a settlement with the plaintiffs before the cases go to trial, and so a Chantix settlement may be announced before the expected trial time arrives.
Nevertheless, it is equally likely that Judge Johnson will elect to send one or more of the earliest lawsuits to trial where they will function as “bellwether cases.” The results of these first few trials may persuade Pfizer to offer a settlement to the remaining plaintiffs, or the plaintiffs may be influenced to drop or continue pursuing their lawsuit claims. In the case of a settlement for these Chantix lawsuits, the total sum paid out by Pfizer may well total a billion totals or more.
Pfizer Defends DrugThe primary phases of multidistrict litigation are underway, yet there has been no sign from Pfizer that they are considering a Chantix settlement. In fact, in a statement released earlier this month, Pfizer insists that the company did nothing inappropriate while developing and marketing Chantix. The drug has been proven to cause certain psychological side effects that can include depression, suicide, and violently aggressive behavior. In addition, there are also several physical Chantix side effects that can manifest, such as diabetes, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, and possible injuries stemming from a so-called “Chantix blackout.” Any of the aforementioned side effects have the potential to be severe enough to require hospitalization.
As stated by Pfizer: “Chantix is an effective treatment option for many smokers who want to quit, and we intend to defend this important medication.”
Comparing the Risk of Chantix side effects to Cigarette SmokingDespite the numerous lawsuits, no one is arguing that Chantix doesn’t work as advertised. Multiple clinical trials confirmed that Chantix simulates the effect of nicotine on the human brain and helps people quit smoking. But studies have also determined that Chantix represents a significant psychiatric risk to users, whether they have a history of mental illness or not.
At this time Pfizer continues to fight the lawsuits, but before long it may become obvious that a Chantix lawsuit settlement will offer the best resolution for everyone involved.