The legal community and plaintiffs in the high-profile Ozempic lawsuits are grappling with the unexpected death of Judge Gene E. K. Pratter who passed away suddenly on May 17. 

“Judge Pratter was an outstanding jurist whose skills as a trial judge were universally respected,” a notice on the court’s website stated. “Judge Pratter is an important part of our Court’s history and continuing legacy, and a beloved member of our Court family who will be sorely missed.”

Pratter, a U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, was overseeing the multidistrict litigation involving Ozempic when she died. She was 75.

A statement by the court addressed Pratter’s career as a lawyer and judge but did not discuss how her caseload would be handled following her death.

Impact on Ozempic Lawsuits

The death of an active judge raises questions about the immediate future of the case and how the judicial system will manage the MDL in the coming weeks.

Pratter’s passing will have procedural impacts on the Ozempic lawsuits. The cases she was overseeing will need to be reassigned to another judge, a process that will take time and could disrupt the momentum built under her supervision.

The reassignment process will take time as the new judge familiarizes themselves with the cases, including the scientific and medical evidence, and reviews existing records and prior rulings. The transition is likely to slow the process of the pending litigation.

The Ozempic MDL formed in February and is still in its earliest phases. As of May 1, there were 87 cases in the MDL, according to the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. Lawyers expect the total number of cases to reach as many as 10,000. 

In April, Pratter issued a case management order announcing the court would hold an “Ozempic Science Day” on June 14, during which both parties would present and clarify scientific evidence behind Ozempic claims. 

It was not immediately clear if that court activity would continue as planned.

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MDL Names Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly

The lawsuits in federal litigation claim that the makers of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist medications, widely used to treat Type 2 diabetes and assist with weight loss, failed to adequately warn users about significant health risks. These risks include severe gastrointestinal conditions such as gastroparesis, bowel obstruction and cyclical vomiting syndrome.

The prescription drugs named in the lawsuits include Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic, Wegovy and Rybelsus, as well as Eli Lilly’s Trulicity and Mounjaro.

The Ozempic MDL was the third of Pratter’s career, according to a February profile of the judge by

“The lawyering tends to be quite good in MDL cases, and that’s one of the reasons that judges like to be involved in MDLs,” Pratter said in the interview with the publication.