According to a December 26 ruling by the Illinois First District Appellate Court, the jury would determine whether the federal regulators would have allowed Merck to include pancreatic cancer warnings to Januvia's labels.
The ruling upholds a previous Cook County Judge's decision in denying summary judgment motion in two Januvia lawsuits which were filed by family members of four plaintiffs who died due to pancreatic cancer while under Januvia treatment. The lawsuits claimed Merck was aware of the risks linked to the diabetes drug and yet failed to send out sufficient warnings to patients and the medical community. Merck refused to take responsibility for failure-to-warn claims, stating that the FDA would not have allowed adding pancreatic cancer risks as a warning label on the drug label and sought for summary judgment in 2013. U.S. District Judge Anthony Battaglia granted summary judgment in 2015 and tossed all the filed cases under MDL No. 2452, finding that the claims were preempted by the federal law. However, those cases were reinstated last year by a California Court of Appeal, 2nd District. In its opinion, the Illinois Appeals Court told the issue needs to be put before a jury as part of a trial.
More than 900 Byetta, Januvia, Victoza, and Janumet lawsuits are filed in several state and federal courts. The litigation was centralized in 2013 in the Southern District of California for coordinated pretrial proceedings.