Holding Pharma Plaintiffs to Their Pleading Burden: Implications of Twombly and Iqbal

March 31, 2010

Eric Lasker, Michael Junk

State and federal courts nationwide are home to a staggering number of pharmaceutical product liability cases. Three years ago, as one of the more than 23,000 Vioxx lawsuits headed to trial in California, a Los Angeles Times writer observed that while a mere 2,700 pharmaceutical product liability suits were litigated in federal court in 2001, “[m]ore than 71,000 drug lawsuits ha[d] been filed in federal courts since 2001 and un-told others in state courts.” The author remarked that by 2006 pharmaceutical product liability suits “account[ed] for more than a third of all product liability filings in federal courts, outnumbering asbestos, tobacco and auto safety claims by a widening margin since 2002.” Although more recent statistics on the total number of pharmaceutical product liability cases are not available, one look at the relative volume of pharmaceutical product liability cases within the federal mass tort system makes it clear that the upward trend has continued. Nearly 40% of the product liability MDLs created by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation since 2006 involved pharmaceutical products. These federal MDL proceedings over the last three years alone have consolidated the claims of more than 13,500 plaintiffs, and they have implicated a broad spectrum of products, ranging from one extreme (e.g., contraceptives) to the next (e.g., treatments for erectile dysfunction)...

Holding Pharma Plaintiffs to Their Pleading Burden: Implications of Twombly and Iqbal