Judge Orders Mediation in Unsettled Chantix Lawsuits

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After settlement agreements were reached in the vast majority of federal lawsuits involving the controversial smoking cessation drug Chantix (generic: varenicline), the judge overseeing the litigation has ordered that all unsettled cases undergo mediation over the next several weeks. Chantix lawsuits allege that the drug can cause severe psychological side effects, suicidal ideation, and injuries caused by unusual behavior. On the federal level, the Chantix litigation is consolidated as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL) before U.S. District Judge Inge Johnson in the Northern District of Alabama.

What’s the problem?

March 14, 2013 – Earlier this month, Pfizer announced that it had reached settlement agreements in about 80% of the approximately 2,500 Chantix lawsuits filed on the federal level at an estimated cost of $273 million. The company said the remaining cases will cost an additional $15 million to resolve.

In a court order issued earlier this week, Judge Johnson ordered all parties in any unresolved Chantix lawsuits to meet on or before April 1 to discuss settlement arrangements. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, they must appear for court-ordered mediation that will be scheduled between April 10 and April 12. It is Johnson’s hope that these steps will allow the entire litigation process to resolve within the next few weeks.

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