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The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) heard oral arguments last week centered on whether to centralize inferior vena cava (IVC) filter lawsuits filed against C.R. Bard. Claims against another IVC maker, Cook Medical, have already been centralized by JPML.

What are IVC Filters?

IVC filters are devices surgically implanted in patients who are at risk for pulmonary embolism. The filters are designed to catch blood clots before they travel to the lungs, where they cause shortness of breath, chest pains, and death.

While IVC filters used to be permanent devices, newer, retrievable filters now have the capability to be removed. A study published in March 2013 in JAMA Internal Medicine indicated that less than 10 percent of the filters studied were successfully removed from patients and eight percent of the recipients of IVC filters suffered a pulmonary embolism despite the presence of the IVC filter.

At the urging of the FDA in 2014, doctors have been encouraged to remove IVC filters within one to two months after the risk of pulmonary embolism has passed, and to consider the risks and benefits of filter removal for each patient.

Allegations of IVC Lawsuits

The IVC lawsuits against Bard and Cook Medical make various claims about the IVC filters, including allegations that they:

  • Fracture
  • Move out of place
  • Puncture the vena cava
  • Cause internal injuries

The IVC lawsuits also allege that prior to the FDA warnings, doctors were not adequately warned by IVC filter manufacturers about the importance of retrieving the devices, and appropriate steps were not taken to warn doctors and patients about their potential for defect.

The plaintiffs in the Bard lawsuits seek to get their cases brought before U.S. District Judge James E. Kinkeade of the Northern District of Texas or before Judge Robert C. Jones in the District of Nevada.

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