The attorney representing two men allegedly injured by the antibiotic Levaquin delivered his closing arguments in the trial of their lawsuits yesterday. According to a report from Bloomberg News, Andres Alonso, a partner in the national law firm of Parker Waichman LLP, told the New Jersey state court jury that due to concerns over Levaquin sales, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) never warned users that it was more likely to cause tendon injuries than rival antibiotics.
“Nobody had more information about this drug than J&J and they didnâ€™t share it,â€ Alonso said. Given the omission of a â€œcomparative riskâ€ label, Alonso said jurors should find that the drug maker failed to adequately warn users of Levaquinâ€™s association with tendon ruptures and other tendon injuries.
Paul Gaffney, 67, and Robert Beare, 72, both of New Jersey, claim to have suffered Achilles-tendon injuries because of Levaquin. Both men, who took Levaquin to treat sinus infections, were left them unable to walk and required surgery.
As we’ve reported previously, the Gaffney-Beare lawsuit, which is being presided over by Judge Carol Higbee, is the first to go to trial in a New Jersey Levaquin mass tort litigation. More than 1,700 Levaquin lawsuits are pending in that litigation.
Another 1,314 are pending in a multidistrict litigation in federal court in Minnesota, where two cases have already gone to trial. The first resulted in a $1.82 million verdict for the plaintiff, while the second ended in favor of the defendant.
During the New Jersey Levaquin trial, attorneys for Johnson & Johnson argued, among other things, that regulatory officials didnâ€™t require the inclusion of information about the comparative risks of Levaquin and other antibiotics on the productâ€™s label, Bloomberg said. They also pointed out that both plaintiffs had preexisting health conditions that played a role in their tendon injuries.
Alonso countered that Levaquin exacerbated the mens’ health problems and led to their tendon ruptures.
Levaquin, a fluoroquinolone antibiotic, was first approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996 to treat various types of infections. In 2008, a Black Box warning about tendon injuries was added to the labels of Levaquin and other fluoroquinolone antibiotics. When the FDA announce the Black Box warning, the agency’s database showed 262 reported cases of tendon ruptures, 259 cases of tendinitis, and 274 cases of other tendon disorders associated with these drugs. The majority of tendon ruptures – 61 percent – were tied to Levaquin.