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Shezad Malik MD JD
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Federal Tylenol Lawsuits Heading to Pennsylvania

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All federal Tylenol liver failure lawsuits are going to be centralized in federal multidistrict litigation (MDL). The MDL has been established for lawsuits filed in U.S. District Courts before Judge Stengel in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) issued a Transfer Order on April 1, consolidating all Tylenol product liability lawsuits. Injured plaintiffs have claimed that they suffered liver damage and liver failure due to the side effects of acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol.

Tylenol Allegations

The complaints involve allegations that Johnson & Johnson failed to adequately warn consumers about the liver toxicity of Tylenol, which has been linked to an increased risk of liver failure and in severe cases, patients have to undergo a liver transplant.

FDA Investigation

The FDA has stated that acetaminophen overdose is a leading cause of liver failure in the U.S., resulting in more than 50,000 emergency room visits, 25,000 hospitalizations and over 450 deaths annually. According to FDA experts, there were between 1,000 and 2,000 acetaminophen-induced liver failures each year.

McNeil Announces Reduced Tylenol Dosage

In July 2011, McNeil announced that it was lowering the maximum recommended dosage on Tylenol and other acetaminophen-based products from 4 grams per day to 3 grams per day. The decision came after the FDA announced new limits on acetaminophen levels in prescription painkillers like Vicodin and Percocet.

Benefits of Tylenol Centralization

Centralizing the Tylenol litigation before one court is designed to reduce discovery in a large number of cases, avoid conflicting rulings from different judges and to serve the convenience of the parties and the courts.

Once centralized, the court will set expedited trial dates, known as bellwether trials and if the plaintiffs are successful in proving their cases, then that may pave the way for a global settlement. Typically these complex pharmaceutical and defective medical device litigation takes 3-5 years to wind their way through the court system towards settlement.