Decision to consolidate Darvon, Darvocet lawsuits postponed

A panel of federal judges has decided to hold off on a decision about whether to consolidate all federal Darvon and Darvocet lawsuits as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL) until further arguments are heard at a hearing in July. The motion was filed just one month after all drugs containing propoxyphene, including the commonly prescribed Darvon and Darvocet, were pulled from the United States market because studies show the drugs put users at risk for potentially deadly heart rhythm abnormalities.

Propoxyphene was approved by the Food and Drug Administration more than 50 years ago for the treatment of mild to moderate pain. The drug has come under scrutiny several times over the years because of its dependency and overdose risks; however, the FDA chose to keep the drug on the market. It wasn’t until late last year, after reviewing data from a new study linking propoxyphene to abnormal heart rhythms that the FDA finally voted to ban the drug.

Darvon and Darvocet makers Xanodyne and Eli Lilly opposed the centralization of Darvon and Darvocet lawsuits as part of an MDL, arguing that each patient’s health will play a role in the evidence and discovery of the cases. They also claim that with more than 20 generic versions of the drug, some of the early lawsuits may involve generics made by other companies.

Only four cases had been filed in federal district courts against Xanodyne and Eli Lilly when the petition was made to consolidate the litigation. Since then, at least 18 lawsuits and more than a dozen different drug makers or distributors have been added to the litigation.

Postponing their decision until July gives the panel more time to hear defendants’ reasons for centralizing litigation.