Valsartan Lawsuit Updates | TheLawFirm.com

Valsartan Lawsuit News and Updates

The latest lawsuit news and updates for the recalled drug Valsartan.

Valsartan Lawsuit (MDL) Update: Valsartan MDL Judge Lays Groundwork For Direct Filing Of Cases

April 12, 2019
Author: Daniel Gala

The judge overseeing multidistrict litigation (MDL) over contaminated batches of the generic blood-pressure medication valsartan issued on April 9 an order allowing cases to be filed directly with the MDL, paving the way for new cases to join the centralized litigation without first having to file their cases in a different district.

“In order to eliminate delays associated with the transfer to this Court of actions filed in or removed to other federal district courts and to promote judicial efficiency…any plaintiff whose action would otherwise be subject to transfer to MDL No. 2875 may hereinafter file his or her complaint against all defendants directly into docket matter No. MDL No. 2875 [sic] in the District of New Jersey,” the order, issued by District Judge Robert B. Kugler for the District of New Jersey, states.

The case management order further reports that defendants have stipulated not to argue improper venue against plaintiffs filing directly with the District of New Jersey, with any venue challenges to be addressed at the conclusion of the centralized pretrial proceedings. Meanwhile, defendants also have been stayed, for the time being, from issuing any responses to new complaints filed with the MDL.

The litigation stems from ongoing voluntary recalls issued by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over concerns that some batches of valsartan and related drugs have been contaminated with probable human carcinogens due to flaws in the manufacturing process. The MDL has centralized federal claims brought by patients who were exposed to the contaminated medications.

Only the third case management order issued in the nascent MDL, the order demonstrates that, though the litigation continues to move forward, it remains quite early in the proceedings.

Source:

The United States District Court For the District of New Jersey Camden Vicinage. (9 April 2019). Case Management Order No. 3 (Direct Filing Order – Stipulated). Master Docket No. 19-2875 (RBK/JS). In Re: Valsartan NDMA Products Liability Litigation

Valsartan FDA Update: Amid Valsartan Shortages, FDA Suspends Own Contamination Standards

April 11, 2019
Author: Daniel Gala

Citing ongoing drug shortages and the potential for further shortages in the future, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in a statement released April 4 that it would be temporarily suspending its own standards for drug contamination levels, allowing drugs that ordinarily would be barred from sale in the US to instead be distributed to patients. The announcement applied to the widely used blood-pressure medication valsartan and other angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), such as losartan and irbesartan, some lots of which have been found to be contaminated with probable human carcinogens.

“Removing the affected medications from the market has led to shortages, and since then we’ve been working to mitigate and prevent shortages as often as possible,” the FDA statement reads. “Currently, valsartan products are in shortage, and we know that other types of products have the potential to fall into shortage soon,. “In anticipation, the agency is not objecting to temporary distribution of specific lots of losartan that contain impurities above the interim acceptable intake limit, for a short period time.”

The admission that the agency would be suspending its own safety standards to allow manufacturers of medications found to be contaminated with dangerous substances to continue to sell their products in the United States under the guise of helping to alleviate a drug shortage those very same manufacturers caused was buried after the announcement that the FDA had found 40 different medications that had not been contaminated.

“Today, for the first time since the first nitrosamine impurity was discovered last summer, we’re announcing that we so far have identified 40 ARB medications where our assessment concluded they do not contain any known nitrosamine impurities, with the expectation that this number will increase,” the statement, attributed to then-FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. and Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, says before delving into the suspension of the usual safety standards.

“Our scientists feel that this [suspension of FDA contamination standards with regards to nitrosamines] will not have a meaningful increased risk for cancer over the time it should take to get impurity-free losartan to the market,” the FDA explains. “We want to reassure patients that we strongly believe the risks, such as stroke, of abruptly discontinuing these important medicines far outweighs the low risk associated with continuing the medications with these impurities.”

The FDA says it expects the United States supply of affected medications to be replenished with contamination-free drugs within six months. The announcement does not address what the FDA plans to do if this expectation is not met.

The announcement is just the latest in a series of FDA communications regarding the ongoing recalls of valsartan and other ARBs, with the most recent recall having been issued on March 25. The voluntary recalls, the first of which was announced in July 2018, result from concerns that the drugs had been contaminated with probable human carcinogens known as nitrosamines. The contamination later was traced back to active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) manufactured in overseas facilities in China and India, which were then used in generic forms of valsartan and other ARBs, such as losartan and irbesartan, that were distributed in the US.

Source:

United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (4 April 2019). Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., and Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research on the agency’s list of known nitrosamine-free valsartan and ARB class medicines, as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to resolve ongoing safety issue. FDA Statement

Valsartan (MDL) Lawsuit Update: Valsartan MDL Judge Sets Schedule For Bi-Weekly Status Conferences

April 5, 2019
Author: Daniel Gala

In just the second case management order in multidistrict litigation (MDL) over contaminated valsartan, the presiding judge on April 2 laid out the court’s forthcoming schedule, addressing such preliminary matters as the timing of bi-weekly status conferences in a reminder that the nascent litigation is only beginning to get under way.

According to the order, issued by United States District Judge Robert B. Kugler for the District of New Jersey, monthly in-person status conferences will be held on the fourth Wednesday of each month, with a telephonic status conference to be conducted on the Wednesday two weeks later.

Each of the monthly, in-person status conferences will consist of two parts: a morning session devoted to discovery issues and an afternoon session concerning case management and scheduling matters.

Other topics addressed in the order issued by Judge Kugler include the nomination of attorneys for positions on the plaintiffs’ leadership committees; the reporting of common benefit fees and costs; the drafting of a Master Complaint, Short Form Complaint, and other documents for each class of plaintiff; and the parties’ submitting of an agenda for the next status conference.

The Valsartan MDL centralizes federal products liability claims over the generic blood-pressure medication valsartan, certain batches of which the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found to be contaminated with substances thought to be human carcinogens. The contamination has been linked to overseas manufacturing facilities where active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) used in generic valsartan were made, and valsartan has been subject to ongoing voluntary recalls.

In addition to products liability lawsuits filed by patients who have been exposed to the contaminated drugs, sellers of generic valsartan also face claims filed by investors alleging the companies’ executives knew or should have known of the risk presented by the contaminated medications and by insurance companies who have incurred additional costs due to price spikes resulting from the valsartan recalls.

Source:

United States District Court for the District of New Jersey Camden Vicinage. (2 April 2019). Case Management Order No. 2. Master Docket No. 19-2875 (RBK/JS). In Re: Valsartan NDMA Products Liability Litigation

Valsartan FDA Recall News Update: FDA Updates Valsartan-Containing Meds Under Recall

March 25, 2019
Author: Daniel Gala

On March 22, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an update to its list of valsartan-containing medications under recall due to contamination concerns. According to the FDA, the list has been revised “to incorporate additional repackagers of Aurobindo’s valsartan-containing medicine.”

Aurobindo Pharma USA, Inc. presently has several different medications on the valsartan recall list, including drugs that combine valsartan with amlodipine and hydrochlorothiazaide (also known as HCTZ).

The March 22 update also included an expansion of recalls involving losartan-containing drugs. Losartan, like valsartan, belongs to the class of drugs known as angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs). The losartan recalls similarly were aimed at repackagers, in this case “repackagers of Torrent’s and Camber’s losartan-containing medicines.”

The valsartan recalls date back to mid 2018, when it was discovered that active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) manufactured overseas for use in the popular blood-pressure medication had been contaminated with probable human carcinogens. Contamination continues to be discovered in additional lots of valsartan as well as other ARBs including losartan and irbesartan.

Sources:

United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (22 March 2019). FDA updates recalled valsartan-containing and losartan-containing medicine information. FDA updates on angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB) recalls including valsartan, losartan, and Irbesartan. Drug Safety and Availability

United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (Updated 19 March 2019). Valsartan products under recall. Drug Safety and Availability

Valsartan FDA Recall News Update: FDA Expands Recalls Of Valsartan-Related Drugs Over Contamination Concerns

March 16, 2019
Author: Daniel Gala

As the one-year anniversary of the original valsartan recalls fast approaches, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to expand the scope of voluntary recalls related to the contamination of angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) like valsartan over concerns that the medications, used to moderate high blood pressure and treat heart failure, have been contaminated with carcinogenic compounds. 

On March 15, the FDA announced the additional recall of nearly four dozen lots of the generic ARB losartan due to tests revealing trace amounts of the substance NMBA, which the FDA describes as “a potential human carcinogen,” in the medication’s active pharmaceutical ingredient (API). 

In two separate statements released simultaneously, the FDA announced the voluntary recall of nearly four dozen lots of Losartan Potassium USP tablets sold in the United States by Missouri-based Legacy Pharmaceutical Packaging, LLC. The recall covers tablets sold in 25 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg doses. 

The API in the recalled drugs was manufactured by India-based Hetero Labs, which has been implicated in a number of the previous ARB recalls. The recalls began in mid-2018 when it was discovered that valsartan using APIs manufactured at a facility in China had been contaminated with suspected human carcinogens. The contamination later was discovered to be present in other ARBs using APIs manufactured by Hetero Labs in India. 

With this latest announcement of nearly four dozen additional lots being recalled, the scope of the valsartan-related recalls continues to grow. The situation already has led to numerous lawsuits filed by plaintiffs ranging from patients exposed to the contaminated medications to insurance companies who have incurred the costs of  recall-related price increases. At least one congressional committee also has cited the valsartan recalls as a key reason for its investigating further the FDA’s practices regarding the inspection and regulation of overseas manufacturing facilities. 

Sources:

United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (15 March 2019). 
Legacy Pharmaceutical Packaging, LLC Issues Voluntary Nationwide Recall of Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP, 25mg, 50mg, And 100mg Due to The Detection of Trace Amounts Of N-Nitroso N-Methyl 4-Amino Butyric Acid (NMBA) Impurity Found in The Active Pharmaceutical.
Recalls, Market Withdrawals, and Safety Alerts. Company Announcement


United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (15 March 2019). 
Legacy Pharmaceutical Packaging, LLC Issues Voluntary Nationwide Recall of Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP, 50mg Due to the Detection of Trace Amounts of N-Nitroso N-Methyl 4-amino butyric acid (NMBA) Impurity found in the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API). 

Valsartan FDA Recall News Update: FDA Announces Additional Valsartan Recalls Due to Contamination with Probable Carcinogen

March 9, 2019
Author: Daniel Gala

In a press release dated March 7, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the voluntary recall of an additional lot of the popular blood-pressure medication valsartan due to contamination concerns. The recall covers 160 mg Valsartan Tablets USP manufactured by Aurobindo Pharma USA, Inc. and sold by American Health Packaging.

According to the FDA, the recall is “due to the detection of trace amounts of an unexpected impurity found in the finished drug product.” The impurity, known as NDEA, is a naturally occurring substance that the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified as a probable human carcinogen.

The recall announcement is the latest of over two dozen spanning back to July 2018 that involve valsartan and other angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) including losartan and irbesartan. In addition to NDEA, the medications also have been found to be contaminated with NMBA and NDMA, also believed to be human carcinogens.

Health investigators believe the contamination to be linked to new manufacturing processes used in the production of the drugs’ active ingredients. The recalls have led to drug shortages and price hikes.

Several manufacturers and sellers of generic valsartan already face lawsuits related to the alleged contamination. In addition to patients suing over their exposure to the contaminated drugs, insurance companies have sued over costs incurred over the resulting price increases, and investors have filed lawsuits saying the company knew or should have known about the contamination problems.

Source:

United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (7 March 2019). American Health Packaging Issues Voluntary Nationwide Recall of Valsartan Tablets Due to the Detection of NDEA (N-Nitrosodiethylamine) Impurity. Recalls, Market Withdrawals, and Safety Alerts

Valsartan Recall News Update: New Democratic Majority in House Seeks FDA Briefing on Valsartan Recalls, Citing Overseas Inspection Concerns

March 9, 2019
Author: Daniel Gala

The freshly sworn-in Democratic majority in the United States House of Representatives has wasted little time using its newfound control over congressional committees to initiate a host of oversight actions on a wide range of matters, including an investigation into the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) practices pertaining to the inspection of overseas pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities, according to a letter sent to the FDA chairman by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

The letter, which requests that the FDA provide “a briefing on a series of recalls that appear to involve drugs manufactured overseas that may have been contaminated with trace amounts of known carcinogens,” specifically cites the ongoing recalls of valsartan and other angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARB) as the basis for its concerns.

“The roots of this ever-expanding series of recalls appear to be related to at least two foreign drug manufacturing facilities: Zheijang Huahai Pharmaceutical in China and Hetero Labs in India,” the letter to then-FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb stated, reflecting what has been reported publicly. “Inspection reports from these two factories indicate serious problems at both factories, even before the carcinogens were detected.”

Signed by members of both parties, the letter goes into great detail regarding the committee’s concerns over the FDA’s overseas inspection practices, particularly given the large number of pharmaceuticals presently produced in whole or in part in facilities outside the United States. The committee cites the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO), which ranked the FDA’s response to this globalization trend as a “High-Risk” area.

“For example, according to recent data, nearly 40 percent of all FDPs [Finished Drug Products] and nearly 80 percent of APIs [Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients] sold in the United States in 2016 were manufactured overseas,” the committee’s letter said, while at the same time, “the number of foreign drug surveillance inspections decline 10 percent to 778 in fiscal year 2018 from fiscal year 2017, which had a nine percent decline from fiscal year 2016.”

This worrying trend suggests that the recent valsartan recalls may represent only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to contamination and other concerns related to pharmaceuticals manufactured overseas. It remains to be seen whether the concerns stated by members of the committee will result in any concrete changes.

Source:

House Committee on Energy and Commerce. (13 February 2019). Letter to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb

Valsartan FDA News Update: FDA Identifies Another Carcinogenic Impurity in Valsartan-Related Drugs

March 5, 2019
Author: Daniel Gala

In a press release posted March 1, 2019, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it had identified a third carcinogenic compound contaminating generic angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB) drug products, such as valsartan and losartan.

The impurities, which have been found in generic ARBs distributed in the United States by a number of different companies, have been traced back to manufacturing facilities in multiple countries, including China and India. The discovery that the drugs, used in the treatment of high blood pressure and heart failure, had been contaminated with known human carcinogens led countries around the world to announce recalls beginning in mid 2018. The recalls, in turn, led to shortages of the drugs, causing price spikes.

The news of a third type of known carcinogen contaminating ARBs was announced simultaneously with the revelation of a new voluntary recall, this time involving losartan potassium tablets manufactured by Hetero Labs Ltd and distributed by Camber Pharmaceuticals.

The losartan pills were found to be contaminated with the human and animal carcinogen NMBA. According to the FDA, “This is the first ARB recall resulting from the presence of NMBA, which is the third type of nitrosamine impurity detected in ARB medicines.”

The first ARB recalls, announced in July 2018, involved generic forms of valsartan that had been contaminated with the carcinogen NDMA. Later, the even more dangerous carcinogen NDEA also was detected in some ARB drug products sold in the United States.

That the scope of the recalls continues to expand nearly a year after the first valsartan recalls were announced suggests that regulators still do not yet fully understand the causes or the full extent of the issues. A statement by the FDA commissioner did little to allay such concerns, even leaving open the possibility of additional recalls in the future.

“Over the past few months, the FDA has conducted a major investigation and has worked with drug companies to address the presence of impurities in these products,” the FDA Commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, was quoted in the press release as saying, adding later, “We are making important strides at understanding how these impurities form and we are continuing to examine if nitrosamine impurities may also arise during the manufacture of other ARB drug products.”

The FDA says it has had to invent novel testing procedures in order to detect the carcinogenic impurities. The generic ARBs included under voluntary recall include valsartan, losartan, and irbesartan, though not all such drugs have been subject to recall.

Sources:

United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (1 March 2019). FDA provides update on its ongoing investigation into ARB drug products; reports on finding of a new nitrosamine impurity in certain lots of losartan and product recall. FDA Newsroom

United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (13 July 2018). FDA announces voluntary recall of several medicines containing valsartan following detection of an impurity. FDA Newsroom

United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (Last Updated 1 March 2019). FDA updates on angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB) recalls including valsartan, losartan and irbesartan. FDA Drug Safety and Availability

Valsartan Lawsuit News Update: FDA Updates Recall List Of Contaminated Drugs Related to Valsartan

February 28, 2019
Author: Daniel Gala

On February 25, 2019, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated its list of drugs subject to voluntary recall over contamination concerns to include batches of the pharmaceutical losartan distributed by Macleods Pharmaceuticals using an active ingredient manufactured by Hetero Labs Limited. The announcement marks the latest in an ongoing series of voluntary recalls of valsartan, losartan, and irbesartan dating back to July 2018 over concerns that the drugs had been contaminated with known human carcinogens due to flaws in the manufacturing process.

“FDA is alerting patients and health care professionals to a voluntary recall of one lot of losartan potassium/hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) 100mg/25mg combination tablets manufactured by Macleods Pharmaceuticals,” the FDA announcement states. “The recall is due to unacceptable amounts of N-Nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA) found in the medicine made with active pharmaceutical ingredient manufactured by Hetero Labs Limited.”

Valsartan, losartan, and Irbesartan all belong to a class of drugs known as angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs). The contamination issues first began to come to light in the United States in July 2018, when the FDA issued a press release announcing that “an impurity, N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA)…was found in the recalled products.”

According to the press release, “The presence of NDMA was unexpected and thought to be related to changes in the way the active substance was manufactured.” The initial valsartan contamination originally was traced back to a production facility in China, but active ingredients manufactured at other facilities in different countries later were discovered to suffer from similar contamination. The FDA subsequently has issued over two dozen updates on the recalls.

Although NDMA in particular is naturally occurring and can be found in common foods such as cured, smoked, and grilled meat, both NDMA and NDEA are classified as known human carcinogens, meaning that exposure at unsafe levels can lead to cancer.

Sources: 
United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (Last updated 25 February 2019). FDA updates on angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB) recalls including valsartan, losartan, and Irbesartan. FDA Website

United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (13 July 2018). FDA announces voluntary recall of several medicines containing valsartan following detection of an impurity. FDA News Releases

Valsartan Lawsuit News Update: JPML Approves Valsartan MDL, Sets NJ As Venue

February 24, 2019
Author: Daniel Gala

In a transfer order dated February 14, 2019, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) approved the creation of multidistrict litigation (MDL) to oversee claims that certain forms of the popular blood-pressure medication valsartan had been contaminated with known human carcinogens as a result of flawed manufacturing processes. The order establishes the MDL’s venue as the District of New Jersey.

“On the basis of the papers filed and the hearing held, we find that these actions involve common questions of fact, and that centralization will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of this litigation,” the Transfer Order states. “All actions involve common factual questions arising out of allegations that plaintiffs purchased or used general formulations of these valsartan medications containing the nitrosamine impurities NDMA and/or NDEA; and that defendants knew, or should have known, of the impurities as early as 2012.”

According to the Transfer Order, defendants differed in their views of centralization, with some defendants favoring centralization of consumer class action suits only, some urging for centralization in a venue other than an MDL, and others opposing their inclusion in centralization altogether.

The principal common defendants in the litigation who expressed positions in favor of centralization included Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. and its US affiliates Prinston Pharmaceuticals Inc., Solco Healthcare U.S., LLC, and Huahai U.S., Inc., along with the pharmacies Walgreen Co. and Throggs Neck Pharmacy. Despite expressing fluctuating positions, according to the JMPL, these defendants ultimately favored centralization of consumer class actions only and joined a number of other defendants in urging the JMPL not to include personal injury actions in the MDL.

Ultimately, the JPML rejected the defendants’ arguments and included both consumer class actions and personal injury claims within the scope of the valsartan MDL.

“Based on this record, we believe that the centralized proceedings should include the related personal injury actions alleging that plaintiffs developed cancer as a result of using valsartan containing NDMA or NDEA impurities,” the panel concluded in the Transfer Order. “The core factual issues in the personal injury actions will be the same as in the consumer class actions – in particular, the cause of the alleged impurities; the nature and extent of the health risks posed by the NDMA and NDEA levels at issue; defendants’ knowledge of the alleged impurities; and the impact of any findings made by the FDA.”

The valsartan contamination originally was traced to a manufacturing facility in China operated by Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals but other facilities later were found to be sources of contamination, as well. The contamination is believed to be the result of new manufacturing processes used to produce a key active ingredient in valsartan.

Beginning in mid-2018, the discovery of potential contamination with known human carcinogens resulted in widespread recalls of valsartan around the globe, which in turn led to drug shortages and price spikes. Some healthcare providers have sued the makers and sellers of the contaminated drugs for costs incurred as a result of the recall, as well as for funds spent on potentially contaminated medication.

Not all valsartan products are subject to recall. A complete, up-to-date list of valsartan products under recall by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can be found here. https://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/DrugSafety/UCM615703.pdf

Stay tuned to TheLawFirm.com for the latest developments in valsartan litigation.

Sources: 
Transfer Order. (14 February 2019). MDL No. 2875. In Re: Valsartan N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) Contamination products Liability Litigation. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation

United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (Updated 6 February 2019.) Valsartan products under recall

Valsartan Lawsuit News Update: Valsartan Recalls Highlight Long-Standing FDA Blind Spot Over Foreign Drug Manufacturers, Lawmakers Say in Letter

February 19, 2019
Author: Daniel Gala

Prompted by recent wide-ranging recalls of the popular blood-pressure medication Valsartan, lawmakers in the United States have voiced their concerns over the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) ability to effectively regulate overseas pharmaceutical manufacturers. Most recently, these concerns were expressed in a bipartisan letter sent from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, Law360 reported February 14.

According to reports, the letter from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce notes that, since 2012, the FDA has had the legal authority to inspect the manufacturing facilities of foreign companies manufacturing pharmaceuticals for sale and use in the United States. However, per the letter and a report by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO), the backlog of un-inspected foreign facilities runs into the hundreds, at least. 

Perhaps most concerning of all, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce had previously noted its concerns over this issue at least as far back as January 2017, well before the worldwide Valsartan recalls that began in mid-2018. In a press release dated January 17, 2017, the Committee drew attention to a then-recent GAO report highlighting the large number of un-inspected facilities overseas and the dangers such a backlog could pose to American pharmaceutical takers. 

According to the Committee’s news release summarizing the GAO report, while the FDA had made some improvements in its oversight of foreign companies, the GAO still found that “46 percent of the positions at the FDA foreign offices are vacant and that the vacancies have been a persistent problem.”

The GAO report further stated that, while the FDA had significantly reduced the percentage of un-inspected foreign facilities from over 50% in 2010 to about 33% by the time of the report in late 2016, roughly 1,000 of the approximately 3,000 foreign establishments under FDA jurisdiction continued to have no inspection history at the time. According to the recent letter from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, at least 400 such un-inspected foreign manufacturing facilities remained as of early 2019, even after the Valsartan recalls revealed the dangers of such lax regulatory oversight. 

This is particularly troubling as, according to the House Committee’s 2017 press release, 80% of pharmaceutical ingredients used in the United States presently are manufactured overseas, with 40% of drugs completing the manufacturing process outside the US.

This means that a quite a large proportion of even prescription-strength drugs sold and consumed in the United States come from facilities that have never been inspected by the FDA. The Valsartan fiasco, which has led to drug shortages and price hikes, not to mention patients’ exposure to known human carcinogens, is just one example of what can go wrong when regulators become lax in their oversight of  an area so important as drug manufacturing. 

Sources: 
House Committee on Energy and Commerce. (17 January 2017). Press Release
Field, E. (14 February 2019). Reps Challenge FDA On Foreign Drug Monitoring After Recalls. Law360

Valsartan Lawsuit News Update: Valsartan Users And Providers Say They Have Paid The Price For Contamination Recalls, Sue For Reimbursement

February 7, 2019
Author: Daniel Gala

The Maine Automobile Association Inc. Insurance Trust has become the latest plaintiff to sue for reimbursement of additional costs it says it incurred due to recent recalls of Valsartan, a popular blood-pressure medication, according to a report by Law360. The lawsuit, filed January 30 in New Jersey federal court, alleges that the insurance trust, like other third-party payers, incurred vastly increased costs related to Valsartan and similar drugs as a direct result of global voluntary recalls that began in mid-2018. The recalls, issued after many forms of valsartan had been found to be contaminated with known human carcinogens, resulted in vastly diminished supplies of the drug worldwide.

The claims raised by the insurance trust are similar to those made in a putative consumer class action suit filed in Massachusetts federal court in November 2018. In that case, the plaintiffs accused generic drug makers Camber Pharmaceutical Inc. and Hetero Drugs Ltd. of willfully ignoring concerns about overseas manufacturing facilities, which the complaint alleges allowed the contamination to occur.

In the instant case, the Maine Automobile Association Inc. Insurance Trust says that the Valsartan recalls resulted in its expenditures related to the drug doubling. According to the lawsuit, these additional recall-related costs include increased drug prices due to diminished supply, as well as additional doctor’s visits for patients exploring other medication options and/or concerned about their exposure to contaminated pharmaceuticals.

Seeking recourse under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act among other claims, the insurance trust claims that the defendant drug makers were aware of the risk of contamination for years, yet continued to push their unsafe products onto the market.

“[D]efendants placed these drugs in the market and sold them to an unsuspecting public for four years,” the complaint says, per Law360. “Plaintiff and similarly situated [third-party payers] paid for these contaminated pharmaceuticals during the entire period.”

In addition to Valsartan, the lawsuit also seeks reimbursement for additional expenses the insurance trust says it incurred over the medications Irbesartan and Losartan, which also have faced similar contamination concerns.

Sources:
O’Sullivan, J. (31 January 2019). Blood Pressure Med Recalls Cost Us Double, Payers Say. Law360
Leibowitz, A. (8 November 2018). Blood-Pressure Drug Cos. Hit With Suit Over Contamination. Law 360

Valsartan Lawsuit News Update: JPML likely to approve multidistrict litigation

February 4, 2019
Author: Daniel Gala

The judicial body responsible for approving or rejecting requests to consolidate multiple lawsuits into multidistrict litigation (MDL) appeared poised to approve an MDL over contamination of the blood-pressure medication valsartan, though the scope and ultimate location of the litigation remain in question, Law360 reported January 31.

Valsartan has become the subject of much concern after evidence was discovered in 2018 suggesting that ingredients used by certain manufacturers of valsartan had become contaminated with known carcinogens due to a problem with the manufacturing process.

Opponents of consolidation argued that the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) should deny the MDL because the number of valsartan personal injury claims was relatively small compared to the thousands of cases contained in other MDLs. According to Law360, only 18 such cases had been filed as of late January 2019.

However, U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of the Southern District of New York, a member of the JPML, expressed confidence that the number of cases will inevitably grow.

“It’s going to happen. We all know it’s going to happen,” Judge Kaplan said regarding the inevitability of additional cases being filed.

Judge Kaplan’s colleague, U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle of the District of Columbia, agreed.

“The writing is on the wall,” Judge Huvelle said, referencing comments from attorneys who had informed the panel that, while the present number of cases was small, hundreds of additional valsartan cases presently were being vetted.

With several of the panel’s members making comments suggesting that they favored consolidation, many of the arguments involved the MDL’s eventual venue. The District of New Jersey was the most popular venue among the parties, though other possible locations included the Northern District of California, the Southern District of Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and the Eastern District of Texas, Law360 reported.

Valsartan is the generic form of Novartis AG’s Diovan, a popular blood-pressure medication also used in the treatment of congenital heart defect. In July 2018, manufacturers of valsartan around the globe began issuing voluntary recalls after their drugs were found to be contaminated with known carcinogens NDMA and NDEA.

The contamination ultimately was traced back to a manufacturing facility in China, with later reports that contaminated valsartan also had been connected to an additional plant in India. Both facilities had been involved in the manufacture of an active ingredient used in many brands of generic valsartan. It is believed that a change in manufacturing methods resulted in the contamination.

Source:
Hale, N. (2019 January 31). Panel Leans Toward Valsartan MDL, But Grapples With Scope. Law360

Valsartan Lawsuit News Update: Walmart has been sued along with three pharmaceutical companies over a contaminated medication

December 5, 2019

In a sign of what could be to come in the Valsartan litigation, Walmart has been sued along with three pharmaceutical companies over a contaminated medication. The suit alleges that the companies all contributed to the production and sale of contaminated batches of a drug used to treat high blood pressure and diabetes.

The batches of irbesartan, a generic version of the drug Avapro, were contaminated with the known carcinogen N-Nitrosodimethylamine, or NDEA, due to manufacturing defects at the manufacturers production facility in India.

This is very similar to what is happening with the high blood pressure drug Valsartan. The Chinese manufacturing plant allowed the drug to be contaminated with a cancer causing substance.

The lawsuit alleges that the patients who purchased the contaminated pills face an increased risk of cancer and disease. The companies have been accused of negligence, breach of contract, strict product liability and violation of consumer protection laws.

Many times it is simply the manufacturer of a contaminated drug who is sued. However, some States allow the pharmacy to be sued as well. In fact, there are a number of potential defendants in a drug-related products liability claim. An attorney faced with a client injured by a defective drug will often consider everyone in the "chain of distribution" of a drug -- that is, the path the drug takes from the manufacturer to the consumer. This path could include the following:

Manufacturer. This is often the starting point for litigation. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are typically large companies, with the ability to pay compensation. However, many manufacturers delay these lawsuits for many, many years.

Testing laboratory. The drug that injured you should have been tested before going to market. If the labs were independent of the manufacturer, they can also be sued.

Pharmaceutical sales representative.  A pharmaceutical sales rep may be liable if they recommended the drug that injured you.

Doctor. The doctors who prescribed the drug that injured you may also be liable for your injuries because they are part of the chain of distribution of the drug. The doctors may be liable based on their failure to warn you about potential side effects or to provide adequate instructions regarding the proper use of the drug. It is not the general practice of TheLawFirm.com to sue doctors but they are a potential defendant.

Hospital or clinic.  A hospital or a clinic, if it was part of the chain of distribution between the manufacturer of the drug and you may be liable for your injuries.

Pharmacy. Your pharmacy is the final point in the chain of distribution of a drug from the manufacturer to you. The pharmacist's counseling regarding use of the drug that injured you may constitute an additional basis for the pharmacy's liability. As well, pharmacies have the ability to test drugs so they can be sued if they sell contaminated drugs.

At the current time, TheLawFirm.com is concentrating on the manufacturer of Valsartan but we are always mindful that other parties may end up bearing some responsibility for the sale of this cancer causing medicine.

Source:
Law360
Nolo.com

Valsartan Lawsuit News Update: More foreign made drugs are now tainted

November 29, 2018

It appears that more foreign made drugs are now tainted. Americans were made aware that a suspected carcinogen was found in the blood pressure drug Valsartan, a product produced in China. Now the FDA has learned the problem is much broader, with two of the largest generics drugmakers now recalling dozens of lots after drug maker Mylan found also a suspected carcinogen.

Mylan just announced that a drug manufactured at one of its plants in India was tainted with N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA), one of two probable carcinogens the FDA has been tracking. 15 lots of valsartan products have been recalled.

And now, Teva Pharmaceuticals said it is recalling 49 lots of valsartan products in the U.S. because they had been made with the Mylan product.

The global recall of valsartan drugs began in the summer of 2018 when the FDA and EU learned that China’s Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals made drugs containing potential carcinogens NDEA and N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).

The FDA has banned certain drugs coming out of Huahai’s manufacturing site in China.

However, for years, it is likely that many Americans regularly consumed a medication that contained a probably carcinogen. If you took a Valsartan product and developed cancer, call the attorneys at TheLawFirm.com for a case review.

Valsartan Lawsuit News Update: Valsartan Update: FDA Expands Contaminated ARB Recalls Beyond Valsartan

October 31, 2018

According to an update posted to its website October 30, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued its first recall of a non-valsartan drug found to be contaminated with the impurity N-Nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA), a probable human carcinogen. The voluntary recall involves certain lots of irbesartan sold by ScieGen under the brands Westminster Pharmaceuticals and Golden State Medical Supply. Aurobindo, which manufactures the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) used in ScieGen’s irbesartan, also has issued a voluntary recall.

Like valsartan, which has been the subject of numerous FDA recalls over the past several months due to contamination concerns, irbesartan is an angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB) used in the treatment of high blood pressure. Numerous brands of generic valsartan have been recalled after they were found to be contaminated with the impurity N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), which was traced back to a Chinese facility that had manufactured the API used in the drugs.

“To date, ScieGen is the only manufacturer of irbesartan drug products found to contain NDEA,” the FDA announcement states. “FDA continues to test all ARBs for the presence of impurities and has publicly posted two methods for manufacturers and regulatory agencies around the world to test their ARBs for the unexpected NDMA and NDEA impurities.”

For patients presently taking valsartan or irbesartan from lots that have been subject to recall, “FDA reminds patients taking any recalled ARB to continue taking their current medicine until their pharmacist provides a replacement or their doctor provides an alternative treatment option.”

At least one proposed class-action lawsuit has been filed in the United States against manufacturers of generic valsartan subject to recall. In early October, a plaintiff filed a complaint in New Jersey federal court against generic drug makers Solco Healthcare US LLC and Prinston Pharmaceutical Inc., alleging that the companies “willfully ignored warnings [sic.] signs regarding the operating standards of the Zheijang Huahai Pharmaceuticals manufacturing plant in China,” which has been identified as the source of the contaminated valsartan.

The FDA’s complete, up-to-date list of Irbesartan products under recall can be found here.

A complete, up-to-date list of valsartan subject to FDA recall can be found here

Sources:
United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Law360

Valsartan Lawsuit News Update: EU to Increase Scrutiny of Chinese Drug Maker Behind Contaminated Valsartan

October 31, 2018

All drugs containing active ingredients manufactured by embattled Chinese firm Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals Co. Ltd. will receive greater scrutiny from European regulators, EU authorities announced October 15. The move follows recalls in Europe and the United States of the blood-pressure medication valsartan, some of which was found to be contaminated with a probable carcinogen that has been traced back to a Zheijang Huahei facility in China.

Relatedly, on October 24, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a brief update on the valsartan recalls, announcing that it continues to look into the matter and that it has added an additional lot of Remedy Repack valsartan to its list of recalled products. (The FDA’s complete, up-to-date list of generic valsartan products subject to the recall can be found here.)

Generic forms of valsartan not subject to recall have seen a massive price increase as a result of the sudden reduction in supply, with the cost of two doses of valsartan in the United States increasing more than any other drug during the month of September, according to a National Average Drug Acquisition Cost (NADAC) survey.

The NADAC survey for September showed that the cost of 160 milligram and 80 milligram valsartan tablets increased by more than double from August to September 2018. Where a 160 mg tablet of generic valsartan cost approximately 14 cents in August, by September that price had reached 31 cents, the survey found.

Some experts warn that such price surges can have lasting impacts on drug costs that far outlive the original cause of the price increase.

“If the price of valsartan jumps to two dollars and then three weeks later it comes back down to 20 cents, there will be consumers somewhere in this country on high-deductible plans still paying two dollars a pill three years from now,” Eric Pachman, co-founder of healthcare data firm 46brooklyn, told Reuters.

At least one proposed class action lawsuit has been filed in the United States against manufacturers of recalled valsartan. The suit, filed in early October by a Kansas resident suing in New Jersey federal court, alleges that Solco Healthcare U.S. LLC and Prinston Pharmaceutical Inc. “willfully ignored warnings [sic.] signs regarding the operating standards at the Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals manufacturing plant in China.”

Stay tuned to TheLawFirm.com for the latest developments involving the valsartan recalls.

Sources:
US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Law360

Valsartan Lawsuit News Update: Chinese Drug Maker Receives $43Million from Government Amidst Valsartan Recalls

October 23, 2018

The Chinese drug maker at the center of recent worldwide recalls of the blood-pressure medication valsartan has received $43 million in “industrial development assistance funds” from a municipal government in China, Reuters has reported.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the import of pharmaceutical ingredients made at a Chuannan-based facility operated by Zheijang Huahai Pharmaceuticals after an active ingredient manufactured for use in generic forms of valsartan was found to be contaminated with the substance N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a probable human carcinogen that also has been associated with severe liver damage. Beginning in July, the FDA issued a series of voluntary drug recalls for affected batches of generic valsartan. (A complete, up-to-date list of generic valsartan recalled by the FDA can be found here.)

Regulators for the European Union similarly have taken action, announcing in a press release on July 27 that they had suspended Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals’ certificate of suitability, which is “used by a manufacturer to demonstrate that the quality of their active substance…is in compliance with current regulatory requirements.”

At least one proposed class-action lawsuit has been filed in the US over the contaminated valsartan. In early October, a Kansas resident filed a lawsuit in federal district court in New Jersey, accusing Solco Healthcare U.S. LLC and Prinston Pharmaceuticals Inc., two manufacturers of generic valsartan, of having “willfully ignored warnings [sic.] signs regarding the operating standards at the Zheijang Huahai Pharmaceuticals manufacturing plant in China,” an apparent reference to the Chuannan factory that is subject to the FDA import ban.

Zheijang Huahai Pharmaceuticals received the $43 million in development funds from the city of Linhai, China, which distributed the money over the course several months spanning August, September, and October 2018, or almost immediately after the Chinese drug maker began to run afoul with overseas regulators.

Stay tuned to TheLawFirm.com for the latest developments in the legal fallout from the valsartan contamination fiasco.

Sources:
Reuters
United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Law360
European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines & HealthCare (EDQM)

Valsartan Lawsuit News Update: FDA Releases Lab Results Showing Valsartan NDMA Contamination Levels

October 15, 2018

On October 5, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) posted lab results lab results for several previously-recalled generic versions of the blood-pressure medication valsartan, revealing levels of the potentially harmful contaminant N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), which has been linked to liver damage and has been characterized by the FDA as a probable human carcinogen. Since July, over a dozen US distributors have voluntarily recalled scores of contaminated valsartan products that contain an active ingredient from a manufacturing facility in China.

(A complete list of valsartan products recalled in the US can be found here. A list of valsartan products NOT presently subject to recall.)

According to the lab results released on the FDA website, which cover eight different valsartan products distributed by four different companies, contamination levels per tablet vary widely. For example, while 320-miligram valsartan tablets sold by Prinston Pharmaceutical tested among the highest at 15-16 micrograms of NDMA per tablet, tablets in the same dosage from Torrent Pharmaceuticals showed only 0.5-0.6 micrograms of NDMA per tablet.

“For reference, consuming up to 0.096 micrograms of NDMA per day is considered reasonably safe for human ingestion based on lifetime exposure,” the FDA explains in a description of its lab results.

Elsewhere, the FDA notes that NDMA is a “known environmental contaminant” that is “found in water and foods including meats, dairy products and vegetables.” For example, according to the FDA, “one pound of bacon may contain 0.303-0.354 micrograms of NDMA.”

(In other words, although small traces of NDMA might be found in other common, everyday products, one would have to eat more than 40 pounds of bacon to ingest the amount of NDMA contained in a single 320-miligram valsartan tablet distributed by Prinston Pharmaceutical.)

Despite the most contaminated tablets’ containing upwards of 150 times the FDA’s own daily safe-exposure level, the agency sought to downplay the resulting cancer risk, stating, “FDA previously estimated that if 8,000 people took the highest valsartan dose (320 mg) containing NDMA from the recalled batches daily for four years, there may be one additional case of cancer over the lifetimes of the 8,000 people.”

While the FDA’s framing of the data seeks to downplay the cancer risk, multiplying even those conservative figures across one-million patients, the result is 125 cases of cancer that otherwise would not have occurred, not to mention the significant risk of liver injury.

According to CNN, 22 countries issued recalls of contaminated valsartan prior to the FDA’s announcing voluntary recalls in the United States last summer. The recalls issued outside the US involved some 2,300 different batches of valsartan that had been distributed to “Germany, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Hungary, the Netherlands, Austria, Ireland, Bulgaria, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, France, Poland, Croatia, Lithuania, Greece, Canada, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bahrain and Malta,” CNN reported.

If you took contaminated valsartan, contact the experienced team of lawyers at TheLawFirm.com right away for a free legal consultation with a licensed attorney!

Sources:
US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
CNN

Valsartan Lawsuit News Update: Proposed Class Action Suit Filed Over Contaminated Valsartan

October 15, 2018

Following a series of safety communications issued by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning of potential contamination to generic forms of the blood-pressure medication valsartan, a Kansas resident has filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against two generic drug makers the plaintiff alleges are legally responsible for the presence of a probable human carcinogen in their products, Law 360 reported.

On October 11, Richard O’Neill filed in New Jersey federal court a complaint accusing Solco Healthcare U.S. LLC and Prinston Pharmaceutical Inc. of selling generic forms of valsartan that contained the substance N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), which has been linked to liver damage and has been identified by the FDA as a probable human carcinogen. O’Neill alleges that the companies knew or should have known that an ingredient they acquired from China-based Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals had been contaminated with NDMA.

“These medications are worthless, as they are contaminated with carcinogenic and harmful NDMA, and are not fit for human consumption,” O’Neill’s complaint asserted, according to Law 360. “Indeed, plaintiff and the class have been instructed to immediately stop using the medication, and have turned in their remaining medication for another, non-contaminated brand.”

Since July, the FDA has announced the voluntary recalls of generic valsartan distributed in the US by more than ten different companies, covering dozens of products. (A complete list of recalled valsartan is available.) Following an inspection of the Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals facility in China, the FDA banned all imports of valsartan containing ingredients manufactured there, though the agency concedes that the contaminated pharmaceuticals may have been distributed in the US for as long as four years prior to the recent recalls.

In his complaint, O’Neill claims that he took the contaminated drugs for over a year and that the alleged contamination dates back as far as six years. He says the drug companies that distributed contaminated valsartan in the US have violated several state laws, including consumer fraud statutes.

Though the FDA has said it believes the contamination is due to a change in manufacturing processes, it continues to investigate the situation.

If you or a loved one has been harmed by a dangerous prescription drug or a defective medical device, contact the experienced team of lawyers at TheLawFirm.com today for a free legal consultation with a licensed attorney!

Sources:
US Food and Drug Administration
Law 360

Legal Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended to be used as medical information or diagnosis. The sources of the information presented in the article have been researched and are linked within the article. Please seek out medical advice from a licensed medical professional if you are experiencing a problem with any of the drugs or devices mentioned in this article. 

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