Valsartan (Diovan) is a popular prescription medication used to treat high blood pressure and congestive heart failure. Consumers have filed thousands of lawsuits against one manufacturer and several retailers of Valsartan due to contamination of some batches with a cancer-causing agent. A New Jersey federal court is administering these lawsuits to make it easier for injured victims to obtain justice.  

Millions of people have taken Valsartan. It provides many benefits to its users, including:

  • Relaxing blood vessels and improving blood flow, which helps heart attack victims.
  • Lowering blood pressure;
  • Preventing strokes; and
  • Preventing kidney malfunction.

The problem with Valsartan is not with the side effects of the medication itself but with defective manufacturing practices at one of its manufacturers.  

What’s Wrong With Valsartan?

On July 13, 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalled some Valsartan products after discovering that some drug shipments were contaminated with NDMA. This carcinogen is sometimes used in rocket fuel. Medical researchers believe that exposure to NDMA can cause liver damage and increase the risk of cancer of the kidneys, liver, colon, stomach, and gastrointestinal tract. 

Other potential risks include cancer of the pancreas, kidney, esophagus, and intestines. NDMA can also cause multiple myeloma, prostate cancer, leukemia, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Product Liability Law

If you suffer an injury due to a product such as Valsartan that you believe is defective and unreasonably dangerous, you can file a product liability lawsuit. Depending on the circumstances, you can technically choose from several legal theories – negligence, strict liability, fraud, or breach of express and implied warranty of merchantability. Among these, however, strict liability is probably the most effective.

Strict Liability

Under strict product liability law, the victim of a defective, unreasonably dangerous product can sue the manufacturer and the wholesalers and retail distributors of the product. You can win a strict product liability lawsuit without proving negligence on the part of any of the defendants. 

The Case Against Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals

Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals is the primary company associated with the Valsartan recall. The accusations against it include:

  • The company’s manufacturing process contaminated Valsartan pills and tablets with NDMA;
  • Black box labeling did not identify its life-threatening side effects;
  • The company failed to warn consumers about the serious dangers of the product. 

All of these failures led to the FDA recall and the multitude of lawsuits against the company and its distributors. The total amount of compensation that these victims claim is immense.

Ongoing Valsartan Litigation

One common way for an injured consumer to seek compensation for injuries caused by a defective drug is to sue the manufacturer under a strict product liability theory. Although some consumers have filed complaints against Zhejiang Huahai, the problem is that it is a Chinese company. Any successful lawsuit against the company in the United States could only reach company assets located in the US (perhaps including assets of the company’s US subsidiary).

This murky legal landscape has led many claimants to file claims against major distributors such as Walgreens and Walmart, who sold the drug at their pharmacies. These giant retailers possess immense resources to pay product liability claims out of their company revenues or business insurance policies.  

Another challenge that litigants and courts faced was clogging the court system with thousands of lawsuits alleging similar facts. The US judicial system has addressed this problem by combining these lawsuits into multidistrict litigation (MDL) administered by a federal court in New Jersey. The litigation is still in its early stages at the time of this writing.

Have You Used Valsartan? Contact a Personal Injury Attorney If You Have

The problem with defective drug lawsuits is that the victim might not even know that their malady arose from a defect in a drug they took. This lack of knowledge is particularly likely in the case of a prescription medication such as Valsartan because people generally trust their doctors to issue prescriptions. If you think you might have a valid Vaslartan claim, contact a reputable personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

For more information, please contact the product liability lawyers at Hawk Law Group at our nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.
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156 Laurens St NW, Aiken, SC 29801, United States
(803) 226 9089

We also serve in Edgefield County, SC.