February 2024 Ozempic Litigation Update

By Susan Barfield
February 20, 2024

Susan B. (0:00:05) – Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining another episode of the Leverage Report. Super excited today to be joined by Jonathan Sedge with Morgan and Morgan. And we are going to be talking all things Ozempic. Jonathan, thank you so much for joining me today. And before we dive in and I just start bombarding you with questions about Ozempic, the one thing I always want to know and people want to hear about is what made you go into law? The why behind why are you an attorney?

Jonathan Sedgh (0:00:34) – Wow. How long is this webinar going to be? Yeah, so I’m first generation American, and my parents always instilled in me, my brother, my sister, that education is the most important thing. So my brother’s a few years older than me. He’s an attorney. Kind of followed suit in that vein. My sister went into medicine. She’s a PA at Sloan Kettering. So just the foundation of making sure we had an education and careers was very important to us.
Susan B. (0:01:08) – Awesome. Does your sister do medical record reviews for you or give you any advice on the cases?
Jonathan S. (0:01:14) – She’s in the OR all the time, but definitely.
Susan B. (0:01:18) – Yeah. Well, good. Okay, well, let’s, let’s talk a little bit about Ozempic, just for those that may be listening and aren’t up to speed on the litigation, if you can just give us a high level on who are the defendants, what are the injuries, what is the criteria people should be going after and such.
Jonathan S. (0:01:37) – Sure. Ozempic is a diabetes medication that is probably one of the most prescribed medications in the country right now. All of Hollywood, it’s supported by celebrities, musicians. Everybody is just trying to lose weight and using a diabetes drug to get there. But there are a group of about six or seven drugs in this class, GLP one, Ras, and Ozempic is one of them. Manjaro is the other one. The two probably biggest ones, Ozempic is made by Novo Nordisk and Manjaro is made by Eli Lilly. And there are a few others, like Wygovy and Zepbound, that are specifically in this class, but they’re indicated for weight loss, so those are allowed to be prescribed for weight loss by doctors. These other medications like Ozempic, Mounjaro, Rebelsis, Sexenda, Trulicity, are drugs that are indicated for diabetes, but doctors, at their own discretion, are allowed to prescribe them off-label for weight loss.
Susan B. (0:02:48) – And so what are the injuries? And currently, what’s the criteria for the cases that you’re onboarding?
Jonathan S. (0:02:56) – So the main umbrella of injuries are your gastrointestinal injuries. But specifically, we’re looking at cases that involve gastroparesis, which is a frozen stomach or stomach paralysis, where you’re unable to digest food. So the food gets stuck in your digestive tract, doesn’t make it down to your small intestines, and in some instances, form into these little balls like clusters, which can then lead to bowel obstructions or intestinal blockages, something called ilius, which is another injury. The way this works is that the vagus nerve, which controls your muscles, stops your digestive tract from contracting. It’s not able to push the food down into your small intestines, and as a result, it gets stuck there. The main symptom of gastroparesis is vomiting. So, since you can’t push the food down, there’s no way for it to get out. So it comes back up, unfortunately. So a lot of our clients have persistent vomiting for over a month. That requires hospitalizations or an ER visit, dehydration, have to get hooked up to an IV. Those are the main injuries that we’re working with right now.
Susan B. (0:04:19) – And are there specific dates? So those are the injuries. Are there dates? If you’re looking to get into this tort and you’re going to acquire cases, specific dates to be looking for.
Jonathan S. (0:04:31) – Ozempic just came out of the market in 2017. So it’s not a drug like, let’s say, PPI, that goes back 2030 years, where it’s difficult for people to get pharmacy records. So anybody that’s been on these drugs have been taking typically brand name drugs, because the generic versions aren’t out yet, it’s still on brand. And as far as injuries go, they’ve been happening for the past, like, seven, eight years. So, depending on the state, statute of limitations, obviously need to be considered. But we’re getting hundreds of calls every single day with people that are on these drugs, have been on these drugs. A lot of people, their symptoms go away after being off the drug for a few months, let’s say. But for a big piece of this group of class of people, the injuries are permanent, and their symptoms continue a year after they’re off the drug.
Susan B. (0:05:29) – How many cases have been filed to date, do you know?
Jonathan S. (0:05:33) – About 60 cases so far across the country in federal court. We’re investigating – Morgan and Morgan, is investigating over 10,000 cases that are on retainers so far spread across the seven drugs pertaining to Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk.
Susan B. (0:05:51) – Okay, is there anything brewing or anything that, from an update perspective on the litigation that we should be aware of?
Jonathan S. (0:06:01) – About two weeks ago, we got a MDL created in the eastern District of Pennsylvania before Judge Pratter, which was great news. She’s a very experienced judge, has handled complex cases before. She’s been on the bench since 2004. She’s a George W. Bush appointee, and we think that her experience is really going to make this case proceed efficiently and down the right track.
Susan B. (0:06:33) – We talk about mdls. Are there any other MDLs that have settled in recent years that showed similar trends to that, that we’re seeing in Ozempic?
Jonathan S. (0:06:42) – Similar trends to Ozempic? Ozempic is still really early. We haven’t even had our first conference with the judge yet, so we don’t know how it’s going to be proceeding with Judge Pratter. But these are two major pharmaceutical companies. So there have been MDLs out there with two major pharmaceutical companies with competing drugs. Like I said earlier, proton pump inhibitor, MDL, before Judge Checki in the drug.
Susan B. (0:07:09) – Has it been recalled or is it still being sold?
Jonathan S. (0:07:11) – No, all these drugs are still on the market. Ozempic and the diabetes drugs are trying to get indications for weight loss currently. So their brand will probably expand after they get that approval from the FDA.
Susan B. (0:07:30) – We said Morgan and Morgan has 10,000 cases. Any idea or thoughts on the estimated total number of cases that are out there?
Jonathan S. (0:07:41) – I think we could hit maybe like 50-60,000 cases just based on the calls that we’re seeing that are coming in on a regular basis. Those 10,000 cases that were retained were a result of over 45,000 calls from people that were taking these drugs. But we have a very strict criteria, so these clients didn’t meet the criteria that we had, so we weren’t able to pursue their case. So there’s a lot of investigation that has to go into these cases. It’s very important to make sure that you have all the elements in the intake criteria. For example, you don’t want to take anybody who’s still on the drug, because that kind of guts, your failure to warn claim. So you want people that have been off the drug you don’t want.
Susan B. (0:08:23) – For how long would you say they need to be off the drug? What is your criteria?
Jonathan S. (0:08:29) – When they call us, they have to be off the drug.
Susan B. (0:08:31) – Okay.
Jonathan S. (0:08:32) – Yeah. That’s whenever they learned of the problem with the drug. So they’re always going to testify that had they known of the gastrointestinal risks, they wouldn’t have taken the drug. They would have taken a safer drug, safer alternative.
Susan B. (0:08:47) – Anything else about your criteria that you would suggest others or encourage others to use?
Jonathan S.(0:08:55) – I think it’s very important for people to be screening their cases properly and to making sure that these individuals have actually been treated in a hospital or an emergency room, you want vomiting for at least a month or so to show that there was some sort of persistent and regular damages. Ongoing, sure. And as far as disqualifications, like I said, somebody who’s still on the drug, we’re not going to pursue those types of cases. Also, people that have had some sort of gastric band surgery, gastric sleeve, because that’s a high risk for gastroparesis. Somebody who has been treated for cancer, chemotherapy, radiation, important to flag those, because those are also high causes for gastroparesis and diabetes itself, the drug that it’s indicated for can cause gastroparesis. So if somebody has had uncontrolled diabetes for 10-20 years and has symptoms of neuropathy or retinopathy, where they have loss of sensation in their fingers or something like that, and their feet, I’d flag those. Those would be tough cases to pursue, but not at all, for sure.
Susan B. (0:10:10) – What about challenges? I’m sure with 10,000 cases, you know the challenges. What are the challenges related to this specific litigation and working with these plaintiffs?
Jonathan S. (0:10:21) – Plenty of challenges. I’m sure there are going to be Daubert motions and preemption motions filed in these cases, just like we have in every pharmaceutical case. Not that we have to prove a mechanism, but the way that these drugs work, these class of drugs, is that they slow down your digestive tract. The purpose of the drug is to have slower motility. The problem is that for tens of thousands of people, instead of it just slowing down your digestive tract, it’s completely paralyzing it. And that’s the problem. So we’re going to be able to prove, and we think we’re going to be able to prove that the drug, that what it’s intended to do is doing exactly that and then some. So it’s going to be hard for a pharmaceutical company to show up and say, hey, our drug doesn’t slow your digestive tract, because that’s what it does. They’re going to be pointing to people’s confounding factors. Like I said earlier, if somebody has diabetes for a long time, they’re going to say that was the cause of it. They’ll point to maybe other types of medication or smoking, alcohol use, things like that nature that might be used in a differential diagnosis.
Susan B. (0:11:37) – Well, Jonathan, this has been fantastic. It’s kind of my quick hit list of questions, updates on the litigation, and I know you guys have a large volume of cases, but you’re willing to take more. Right. So if firms want to get into the tort and, or they have questions, certainly reaching out to you, and we’ll put all your information so they can contact you directly. But, man, I’m grateful that you took the time to spend a few minutes with me, giving us the insights and the updates and just sharing your knowledge about this tort.
Jonathan S. (0:12:10) – Of course. Thanks so much, Susan. Obviously, if anybody does get cases, it’s important to be very diligent in ordering your records and using somebody like Case Works to make sure that you’re reviewing the records timely, you’re getting summaries done. And it’s important to get all those boxes checked before you file.
Susan B.(0:12:30) – Yep. Absolutely. Well, thank you, Jonathan. I really appreciate it.
Jonathan S. (0:12:35) – Sure. Thank you, Susan.

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