Monday, May 18, 2015 - Multidistrict litigation related to the blood-thinning medication Xarelto pushes on, with specific cases having been selected for discovery and a considerable amount of new lawsuits joining the MDL in the past month. The drug, manufactured by Bayer and Johnson & Johnson, is currently the focal point of hundreds of lawsuits claiming that the medication led to severe bleeding incidents sometimes resulting in the death of a patient.
Between 40 and 60 cases were selected to be examined for specific discovery.The cases will be combed to find examples of the central allegations against the defendants, namely that Xarelto was marketed recklessly and possibly intentionally as a safe blood thinning option despite its connection to serious bleeding incidents. Plaintiffs claim that the defendants purposefully continued to market the drug after they discovered the severity of its defects.
The lawsuits were consolidated before U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon in the Eastern District of Louisiana in December of 2014. At the time, only 33 lawsuits were transferred into the MDL. At the time of the latest filing in April, more than 400 lawsuits had been included in the MDL, a stark jump from the 311 that were counted in the March filing.
Xarelto, a blood thinner that was slated to compete with similar medications such as Warfarin, was named in the lawsuits by plaintiffs for serious bleeding injuries sustained because of the drug‘s defective design. Warfarin includes vitamin K as an ingredient, which helps promote the body‘s ability to clot and seal wounds while a patient is taking the blood thinner. Xarelto had no such reverse agent in its make up, causing minor bleeding incidents to spiral out of control when a patient‘s body failed to close a wound.
Xarelto served as a popular blood thinning drug before its serious bleeding incidents were widely reported, netting $2 billion in sales in 2013. The anti-coagulant was used to reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications, which included helping prevent heart attack and stroke. However the lack of a reverse agent has brought the drug‘s viability into question with as many as 65 deaths already connected to the defective medication. The Institute for Safe Medication Practices published a study as far back as 2012 that identified more than 350 incidents of serious injury or death related to Xarelto‘s lack of a reverse agent.
Pradaxa, another defective blood thinner that recently was a part of its own MDL, was at the center of a $650 million settlement that was intended to pay damages to more than 4,000 class members. While Xarelto‘s MDL is thus far much smaller than Pradaxa‘s, the proceedings concerning the latter can be referenced to get an idea of how Xarelto‘s MDL will take shape moving forward. The announcement of the Pradaxa settlement came less than two years after the initial consolidation of the lawsuits into an MDL.
An order vacating a conditional transfer order and a hearing session order previously scheduled for May 28 was filed for the MDL on April 14. Judge Fallon also gave deadlines for the return of defendant fact sheets, which are to be returned to the court within 60 days of defendants receiving a plaintiff fact sheet.