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From Products Liability Law Daily, August 2, 2017

Olmesartan makers agree to $300M settlement

By John W. Scanlan, J.D.

Daiichi Sankyo and Forest Laboratories have agreed to create a $300-million fund to compensate claimants who sustained gastrointestinal injuries from taking Olmesartan products. The settlement agreement is intended to resolve personal injury claims against the two companies and related entities in MDL 2606, any other federal proceedings awaiting transfer to the MDL, New Jersey coordinated proceedings (Case No. 299), and all other state court proceedings (In re Benicar (Olmesartan) Products Liability Litigation, August 1, 2017, Kugler, R.).

Eligibility. A claimant is eligible to participate in the settlement if he or she used the prescription hypertension drugs Benicar®, Benicar HCT®, Azor®, or Tribenzor® on or before May 1, 2015, and sustained an injury from one of these products. Primary counsel must make an online submission of all information required by the case census orders by August 25, 2017. A claimant who is eligible but who did not have litigation pending by August 1, 2017, may be eligible if he or she signs a retainer agreement with an attorney or law firm by August 23, 2017. Plaintiffs whose cases were dismissed with prejudice before August 1, 2017, are not eligible. Claimants must file an opt-in package by September 15, 2017 (this date may be pushed back) that contains, among other things, a release of all claims arising from the use of Olmesartan products and a stipulation of dismissal of their cases. Enrollment in the program is irrevocable.

Level of payments. The agreement defines six levels of injuries, ranging in severity from Level VI for those patients who experienced symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, or similar symptoms while taking Olmesartan products, to Level I for those who experienced pathologic changes in the small intestine, or who were diagnosed with Sprue-like Enteropathy (SLE), collagenous sprue, unclassified sprue, "celiac-like" Enteropathy (CLE) or other symptoms consistent with an enteropathic condition, and who experienced weight loss and at least three days of hospitalization. Level VI claimants will be entitled to receive up to $10,000, with a $4-million cap for all claimants in this group. Claimants in other groups will be assigned points, ranging from 15 for Level V to 200 for Level I, that will be used as the basis for the final monetary award. These point levels will be adjusted upward based on the length of hospitalization, percentage of body weight loss, the presence of renal failure, the need for long-term prescription steroidal use, and the time period in which the claimant used Olmesartan. Point values will be determined once all claimants have completed the points award process. Thirty-five million dollars will be earmarked for an "Extraordinary Injury Fund" for claimants with particularly serious or permanent injuries.

Termination of agreement. By 30 days after the last day of the opt-in enrollment deadline, Daiichi Sankyo may choose to exercise a termination right to walk away from the agreement. It will lose this right if 95 percent of all eligible enrollees participate, along with thresholds involving enrollees with SLE, weight loss, and at least 10 days of hospitalization. If it exercises this right, the agreement becomes null and void, along with the releases and stipulations of dismissal. If Daiichi Sankyo does not exercise this right, all claim participants seeking an award under the program will have 30 days from that date to submit their claims packages, including medical records and other supporting documentation.

BrownGreer PLC will serve as the initial claims administrator. Judge Marina Corodemus will serve as Special Master under the agreement, and will hear applications to dismiss claims for failure to comply with the terms of the agreement and make recommendations to the MDL court.

The case is MDL No. 2606.

Attorneys: Gale D. Pearson (Pearson, Randall, & Schumacher, PA) for Kalawatti Kay Scheffler. Alan J. Lazarus (Drinker, Biddle & Reath LLP) for Daiichi Sanyko, Inc. and Daiichi Sankyo U.S. Holdings, Inc. Alan J. Lazarus (Drinker, Biddle & Reath LLP) for Forest Laboratories, LLC.

Companies: Daiichi Sanyko, Inc.; Daiichi Sankyo U.S. Holdings, Inc.; Forest Laboratories, LLC

MainStory: TopStory SettlementAgreementsNews DrugsNews NewJerseyNews

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