Tepezza Lawsuit Update: Recent Developments in Hearing Loss Cases

For many patients struggling with Thyroid Eye Disease (TED), Tepezza offered a glimmer of hope. However, a growing number of individuals who received this medication now face a different challenge – devastating hearing loss. This has sparked a major legal battle, with patients seeking compensation and accountability from Tepezza’s manufacturer, Horizon Therapeutics.

This article discusses the latest developments in the Tepezza hearing loss lawsuit. We’ll explore the current stage of the case and highlight key events that have occurred recently. 

The Formation of the MDL

Tepezza’s arrival in January 2020 marked a significant development for patients battling TED, a rare autoimmune condition that can lead to permanent vision loss. This medication, the first FDA-approved treatment for TED, offered hope for managing the disease’s symptoms, including double vision, eye pain, and bulging. 

The medication works by blocking a specific receptor (IGF-1R) thought to be involved in TED’s development. Administered intravenously over several months, it promised relief for many patients.

However, according to Medtruth, a dark cloud emerged alongside this newfound hope. A growing number of patients started experiencing a devastating side effect – hearing loss. This unforeseen consequence sparked a wave of lawsuits against Tepezza’s manufacturer, Horizon Therapeutics.

Recognizing the commonalities in these legal challenges, the court system established a mechanism to streamline the process – the Tepezza Multidistrict Litigation (MDL). In June 2023, despite objections from Horizon Therapeutics claiming insufficient cases, the MDL was formally approved. Judge Thomas M. Durkin of the Northern District of Illinois now presides over the MDL.

This consolidation aims to centralize all lawsuits alleging hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing in the ears) as side effects of the medication. 

Current Status of the Lawsuit

The Tepezza lawsuit continues its journey through the complex legal landscape known as Multidistrict Litigation (MDL). Here’s a breakdown of the current stage:

MDL status: According to TorHoerman Law, as of April 2024, the case remains firmly within the MDL phase. The MDL currently encompasses around 101 cases. This number has grown steadily since the initial 54 cases in August 2023, with 8 new additions reported in the last month.

Bellwether case selection: This is a crucial stage in the MDL process. Bellwether cases are representative lawsuits chosen for early discovery and potentially even trial. The outcomes of these test trials can significantly influence settlement negotiations for the entire MDL.

The selection of bellwether cases has proven to be a point of contention. According to Lawsuit Information Center, in January 2024, attorneys from both sides jointly requested a 60-day extension to identify suitable cases for the initial pool. This highlights the importance of selecting strong bellwether cases that accurately reflect the wider pool of claims.

In March 2024, Horizon Therapeutics sought a further two-month delay for choosing bellwether cases. This move, seen by plaintiffs’ attorneys as a stalling tactic, underscores the strategic importance of bellwether selection. Faster progress is seen as beneficial for pushing the case towards a settlement.

Looking ahead: While the pace of the case might seem slow, the selection of bellwether cases is a critical step. A thorough review of medical records and careful case selection will lay the groundwork for these representative trials. Once these trials are completed, they can pave the way for settlement negotiations for all lawsuits within the MDL.

Early Tepezza Lawsuit

According to Drugwatch, the hearing loss lawsuit has its roots in the story of Daniel Weibel. Weibel is an Arizona man who became one of the first plaintiffs to take legal action against Tepezza’s manufacturer. In August 2022, Weibel filed a lawsuit in Illinois, alleging that the medication caused him permanent hearing loss.

Weibel’s case highlights a critical concern – the potential lack of sufficient warnings about the medication’s side effects. According to his lawsuit, neither he nor his doctor were informed about the risk of hearing loss or tinnitus. 

The lawsuit further claims that Horizon Pharmaceuticals possessed evidence linking the drug to hearing loss. This evidence included patient reports, scientific studies, and even the company’s post-marketing research. Despite this information, Horizon failed to adequately warn patients or healthcare providers about this potential side effect.

Weibel’s case served as a catalyst, sparking a wave of similar lawsuits from other individuals who experienced hearing loss after taking Tepezza. 

Eligibility Criteria for Filing the Lawsuit

If you have experienced permanent or persistent hearing loss or tinnitus after taking Tepezza, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit. Consulting with a lawyer is crucial to determine your eligibility. 

They will assess various factors including the timing and duration of usage, the nature of your hearing problems, and medical interventions received. Questions that lawyers may ask include details about your treatment regimen and the onset and diagnosis of hearing issues. Additionally, you will be asked whether your healthcare provider attributed your symptoms to Tepezza usage.

It’s essential to act promptly if you’re considering filing a lawsuit, as there are strict time limits to initiate legal proceedings. Depending on your state of residence, the statute of limitations for filing the lawsuit can vary from two to four years.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is hearing loss from Tepezza permanent?

While hearing loss caused by the medication can vary in severity, it has been reported as both permanent and persistent in some cases. However, individual experiences may differ. The extent of hearing impairment may depend on factors such as dosage, duration of treatment, and individual health conditions.

What is the FDA warning on Tepezza?

The FDA has issued a warning regarding Tepezza, stating it may cause severe hearing impairment, including permanent hearing loss. The agency advises healthcare providers to assess patients’ hearing before, during, and after treatment and weigh the benefits and risks of the therapy carefully.

What is the success rate of Tepezza?

Tepezza has shown promising results in clinical studies. 7 to 8 out of 10 patients experienced reduced eye bulging (proptosis) after completing treatment. Additionally, 5 out of 10 patients reported improvement in double vision (diplopia) following a full course of the therapy.

In conclusion, the Tepezza lawsuit goes beyond individual cases. It raises crucial questions about patient safety, informed consent, and the responsibility of pharmaceutical companies regarding potential side effects. 

The legal process may be lengthy. However, it has the potential to pave the way for greater transparency and accountability in the marketing of prescription drugs.

For patients who have experienced hearing loss after taking the medication, the lawsuit offers a platform to seek justice. As the lawsuit progresses, we can hope for a resolution that prioritizes patient safety and ensures informed decision-making when it comes to healthcare.

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