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man injecting semaglutide (ozempic, wegovy) into his belly

On February 2, 2024, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) ordered all federally filed GLP-1 receptor agonists lawsuits (including those involving Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro) consolidated in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The panel appointed the Honorable Gene E. K. Pratter to manage the proceedings.

At the time of the transfer, the litigation consisted of 18 actions pending in eleven districts. The parties had informed the panel of an additional 37 related actions pending in fifteen districts. Now that the cases have been consolidated, it is expected that many more will be filed in the coming months.

Coordinated Proceedings Involve Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro

These lawsuits involve medications called glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 Ras) that are prescribed for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and to help certain obese or overweight individuals lose weight. The drugs mimic the action of the natural GLP-1 hormone in the human body, slowing gastric emptying and stimulating the release of insulin.

This class of drugs includes Ozempic, Wegovy, and Rybelsus—all manufactured by Novo Nordisk—and Trulicity and Mounjaro, both manufactured by Eli Lilly and Company. Many plaintiffs wanted to centralize those actions involving individuals who used these medications and then allegedly suffered from serious side effects like the following:

  • gastroparesis (stomach paralysis)
  • ileus (temporary lack of normal muscle contractions in the intestines)
  • intestinal obstruction
  • other gastrointestinal injuries

Other suggested locations for the new MDL included the Eastern District of New York or the Western District of Louisiana. Novo Nordisk also supported centralization but proffered the Middle District of North Carolina or the Southern District of California as potential venues.

Some other plaintiffs opposed including claims against Eli Lilly in this MDL, while one suggested a Novo Nordisk-only MDL. Eli Lilly also opposed inclusion. These parties suggested other locations for the proposed litigation.

The Panel Chooses to Consolidate All Related Actions in Pennsylvania

The panel found that the actions listed involved common questions of fact, and that centralization in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania would be best. Thirteen of the 55 actions (including potential tag-along actions) are pending in this district—the most of any district. Novo Nordisk’s headquarters are close by in Plainfield, New Jersey, and the Eastern District of Pennsylvania provides a “convenient and accessible” location, according to the panel.

As to the question of the differing products, the panel noted that undoubtedly, “there will be significant differences between the claims against each defendant,” but that both defendants’ products at issue are GLP-1 RAs and “share a mechanism of action and physiologic effect.”

They added that the claims against both “are likely to involve some common discovery,” and that centralization “will facilitate a uniform and efficient pretrial approach to this litigation, eliminate duplicative discovery, prevent inconsistent rulings…and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel, and the judiciary.”

The panel did add that Judge Pratter will have options to separate the defendants if he decides that is necessary.

Plaintiffs Claim Manufacturers Downplayed Seriousness of Side Effects

The plaintiffs involved in this litigation claim that the defendants failed to warn about the potentially serious side effects associated with GLP-1 medications.  Plaintiffs argue that the risks warned of by the Defendants are significantly downplayed when it comes to how serious and severe they can be.

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