If you talk to pharma practitioners, you might get the sense that there is not much new mass tort litigation heating up or in the near future, which they attribute to a widely-reported decline in blockbuster drugs over the last few years among other factors. Federal judicial statistics indicate a more nuanced picture. 

Federal case filing data show that cases designated as pharma torts have increased by more than 30% since 2012, outpacing the roughly 15% growth in overall personal injury cases over that time period. If this year’s trends continue, 2014 will see even stronger growth in pharma tort filings. The contrast is even stronger considering that total federal civil case filings have remained stable in recent years (driven in part by a decline in asbestos case filings attributable to the winding down of MDL 875). 

There are some limitations to this data relating to changes in federal recordkeeping, but the direction of the evidence is clear—something is going on in pharma litigation, anecdotal sentiment notwithstanding.