Federal Court Judge Jennifer Davies of the Australian state of Victoria has delayed the settlement approval between Pfizer and patients who developed gambling, sex and shopping addictions as a side effect of drugs for Parkinson’s disease.
Around 172 patients took Pfizer’s drugs Cabaser and Dostinex to treat quivers associated with Parkinson’s disease or restless legs syndrome between 1996 and 2010 and have linked these drugs to risk-taking behaviors and addictions.
Patients claimed to have gambled using their entire life savings, after taking the drugs despite not having pre-existing gambling problems.
The claimants also argued that Pfizer was careless in selling the drugs to health care professionals and patients, failing to provide sufficient warnings despite knowledge of the potential side effects.
In December Pfizer agreed to a confidential settlement and once approved, the claimants could share millions of dollars’ worth of compensation.
However, Judge Davies declined to approve the agreement in a ruling on Thursday, stating that the “claims have not been fairly assessed.”
“In such circumstances, there is the potential for a conflict of interest to arise which may well support an apprehension that the claims of group members may not have been fairly assessed,” Davies said.
Davies also said that the claimants were not aware of their rights to an independent review or the time limit within which such rights could be exercised.
“The rights of review provisions in the settlement distribution scheme need to be amended and submitted to the Court for further consideration for approval of the settlement to be given,” Davies said.
Spokesman from Pfizer said that the company entered into settlement resolution discussions in order to avoid the cost of litigating the claim and to avoid a lengthy trial.
“Pfizer remains willing to litigate this matter in court if necessary,” Pfizer spokesman said.