Earlier this year, we discussed the Eastern District of Pennsylvania’s decision to enter a Lone Pine order – that is, a case management order that requires all plaintiffs to produce evidence establishing specific elements of their claim – in the Zostavax MDL. That post can be viewed here. We lauded that Lone Pine order’s potential to save the parties considerable time and expense while advancing the purposes of the MDL by weeding out meritless cases. That potential recently came to fruition: the court in the Zostavax MDL dismissed 1,189 cases for failure to comply with the Lone Pine order. In re: Zostavax (Zoster Vaccine Live) Prods. Liab. Litig., 2022 WL 17477553 (E.D. Pa. Dec. 6, 2022).
Multidistrict litigation is often criticized for enabling plaintiffs to file meritless cases and then hide in large inventories, hoping to be swept up in a settlement (whether global or otherwise) before the case is meaningfully probed through discovery. Traditional tools such as plaintiff profile sheets and early screening orders represent a partial solution, as they can help identify cases with more obvious flaws such as those that are clearly time-barred or lack proof of product use. But some issues, such as critical gaps in causation, are beyond the reach of the limited case-specific discovery permitted for most cases in an MDL. Enter the Lone Pine order, a case management order by which a court requires all plaintiffs to produce evidence establishing specific elements of their claim.
FDA recently issued final guidance regarding the initiation of voluntary product recalls and its related suggestions on how to be “recall ready.” The guidance – covering voluntary recalls of food, drugs, devices, biological products, cosmetics, and tobacco – emphasizes the importance of a company’s recall readiness at all stages of a product’s distribution chain and provides companies with suggested measures to prepare for and implement voluntary recalls. It also advises companies on best practices for working with FDA to initiate a timely voluntary recall.
Three circuit court decisions issued in the past two weeks have considered the CMS vaccine mandate, bringing the issue – and similar vaccine mandate lawsuits – to the Supreme Court in the final weeks of the year. The CMS mandate generally requires that facilities certified to participate in Medicare or Medicaid ensure their staff are fully vaccinated against COVID unless the employee is exempt for medical or religious reasons. CMS issued the vaccine mandate on November 5, 2021. It went into effect immediately, with staff to be fully vaccinated by January 4, 2022.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued its third draft guidance under the Real-World Evidence (RWE) Program on November 29, 2021. In Real-World Data: Assessing Registries to Support Regulatory Decision-Making for Drugs and Biological Products, the FDA discusses considerations for sponsors and other stakeholders when designing or using an existing registry as RWD to support a regulatory decision about the safety and effectiveness of a medicine or biologic.
The goal of the RWE program, in part, is to satisfy Congress’s mandate under section 505F of the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) for the FDA to provide more guidance about the use of RWE in regulatory decision-making. We discussed the FDA’s first and second guidances, released in August and October 2021, here and here.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a draft guidance titled Data Standards for Drug and Biological Product Submissions Containing Real-World Data on October 21, 2021. The guidance provides the Agency’s thoughts on how sponsors can comply with the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) when submitting “certain” applications that contain study data derived from real-world data (RWD) sources. The FDA acknowledges that its current study data standards do not necessarily reflect a process derived from RWD sources. However, sponsors will need to convert RWD into established study data standards when submitting this information as part of a regulatory application (a process called “mapping”).
For context, study data standards are documented guidelines to help with the exchange of clinical and nonclinical study data between computer systems. They are used to provide a consistent framework for organizing study data (such as templates for datasets, standard names for variables, how to do calculations with common variables, and so on).