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Increased Number of Lawsuits Expected to be Filed in Tylenol® Liver Failure MDL

On June 18, 2013, the Honorable Judge Lawrence Stengel issued a case management order setting out procedures for directly filing cases using short form complaints in the In re: Tylenol® (Acetaminophen) Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation pending in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Tylenol® is a widely-used painkiller, whose active pharmaceutical ingredient, acetaminophen, has been linked to liver injury for decades. In 2011, the FDA lowered the maximum allowable level of acetaminophen in prescription painkillers like Vicodin® and Percocet®. In response, Johnson & Johnson lowered the maximum recommended dose of Tylenol® from 4,000 mg per day to 3,000 mg per day. Notwithstanding these efforts, acetaminophen overdose remains the leading cause of liver injury in the U.S., prompting over 50,000 emergency room visits annually, including 25,000 hospitalizations and 450 deaths.

This past April, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) consolidated all federal cases filed against the manufacturers of Tylenol® in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania before Judge Stengel. The consolidated cases all involve allegations that the makers of Tylenol® did not adequately warn about the risk of liver problems. Although there are presently just a few dozen cases filed, hundreds, if not thousands, of cases are ultimately expected to be filed in the MDL.


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