According to court documents and review of the inventory of filed lawsuits against the manufacturer of Xarelto, litigation proceedings against the pharmaceutical company appear to be ratcheting up in scope and depth. In December, 2014, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) granted consolidation of pretrial proceedings for all federal Xarelto cases filed against Bayer and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen subsidiary over the new generation blood thinner.
Currently, the Xarelto personal injury and product liability claims are centralized before U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon in the Eastern District of Louisiana. Bayer and Johnson & Johnson are now exposed to more than 220 cases alleging excessive bleeding in the federal multi-district litigation (MDL) with more cases being filed around the country.
Complaints Allege Lack of Warnings
The plaintiffs in the lawsuits consolidated in the MDL have alleged, among other causes of action, Bayer and Johnson & Johnson failed to properly warn about the risks associated with new-generation anticoagulant and the lack of an effective antidote for Xarelto, in the event of uncontrollable bleeding.
Xarelto is a new-generation anticoagulant approved by the FDA in 2011 as a replacement for Coumadin, an anticoagulant used to treat blood clots and strokes in patients with atrial fibrillation, a common heart condition. While Xarelto has been touted as a safer alternative to Coumadin since it does not require regular blood tests to measure the drug’s effectiveness, several recent studies have found that Xarelto does not have a reversal agent that doctors can use to stop unwanted hemorrhaging. In contrast, Coumadin’s blood thinning effects can be quickly reversed in an emergency.
Xarelto Federal MDL Lawsuits
The MDL before Judge Fallon has an important role in streamlining the litigation, as all plaintiffs and defendants are under the control of one judge to allow for the coordination of discovery and the cases chosen as “bellwether trials” to determine the strength of the people’s claims for personal injury and/or wrongful death.
As part of the coordinated pre-trial proceedings, it is common in complex pharmaceutical and mass tort cases for a small group of cases will be selected as “bellwether” cases. I am personally involved in a bellwether case on behalf of my client in the Granuflo MDL located in Boston, MA, which I intend to blog about in the near future. Bellwether cases will be prepared for trial to help the parties determine how juries will consider certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated in every individual case.
If the parties fail to find a mass settlement, Judge Fallon will remand the cases back to their home jurisdiction for trial.