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Seroquel Litigation Update

More problems for the Seroquel lawsuits, recently. Plaintiffs in the Seroquel litigation generally allege that the drug causes diabetes and other metabolic disorders. Judge Joseph Slights III, of the Delaware Superior Court, granted summary judgment in the Scaife case. In its Daubert argument, AstraZeneca persuaded the court that the plaintiff’s expert witness, an endocrinologist, provided opinions that were not scientifically reliable. The three bases for this opinion are that the physician (1) failed to rule out other likely causes of plaintiff’s diabetes; (2) found causation between the drug and the injury to a large degree because of the timing of plaintiff’s ingestion of the drug and onset of the disease; and (3) failed to use rigorous methodological analysis of available data to support her conclusions. The court excluded the plaintiff’s expert witness, then held that summary judgment was appropriate, and the plaintiff had no means to prove her case.

The opinion reveals the unfortunate human cost of drug litigation. These cases can be difficult to prove, often because plaintiffs who take medication are frequently sick people (of course, this is why they take medication). Sick people often make for problematic plaintiffs because every medical issue becomes another complicating factor in the causation analysis and the epidemiological data. Then, if the cases get to a jury, it’s all too easy to dismiss habitually sick people as those who will always have problems, regardless of whether they are caused by a defective product. In the Scaife case, the plaintiff was frequently overweight, had an extremely poor diet, suffered from hypertension, and smoked prodigiously. In this case, though, it’s hard to know if the problem was poor case selection or an expert who was not properly vetted. Or some other reason…