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Posted February 2nd, 2012 in Top Stories

Nilan Johnson Lewis Secures Another Win for Johnson & Johnson in Levaquin Case

On Jan. 26, Nilan Johnson Lewis secured a significant win in the third federal case to go to trial in the Federal District Court of Minnesota alleging Johnson & Johnson and Janssen Pharmaceuticals (formerly Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical) failed to properly warn about the increased risk of tendinitis and tendon rupture caused by the antibiotic Levaquin.

In April 2006, then 72-year-old Clifford Straka was prescribed Levaquin by a physician in Arizona for treatment of pneumonia. After returning to Minnesota several days later, he visited his primary care physician complaining of leg pain, which his doctor attributed to Levaquin and immediately took Straka off the antibiotic. Later that month, Straka tore his left Achilles tendon. In July 2006, he tore his right Achilles tendon.

Around the time Straka filed suit claiming failure to warn and violation of the Minnesota Consumer Fraud Act in early 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required all makers of antibiotics in Levaquin’s class, called fluoroquinolones, to increase warnings about the risk of tendon ruptures – specifically among the elderly and those taking corticosteroids. Straka and his counsel argued that Johnson & Johnson should have done more to warn of these risks, even before required by the FDA.

Led by Tracy Van Steenburgh, the Nilan Johnson Lewis litigation team contended that in this situation, additional information would not have benefited the prescribing physician, who said she wasn’t aware that Levaquin was linked to an increased risk of tendon damage in elderly patients despite a FDA press release, media coverage of the issue and other regulatory updates. The Minneapolis federal jury ultimately found that Johnson & Johnson’s failure to properly warn was not the cause of Straka’s injuries.

“Combined with two previous cases, including Calvin Christensen v. Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical, Inc., et al., this jury verdict demonstrates that what the prescribing physician does and doesn’t know makes a difference,” said Van Steenburgh. “With more than 3,700 claims involving Levaquin in state and federal courts, this verdict will be significant in determining the value of future cases.”


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