Wednesday, September 23, 2015 - A pair of pretrial orders in the multidistrict litigation concerning the blood thinner Xarelto were recently issued. The lawsuits, which have been consolidated to the Eastern District of Louisiana federal court, allege that the manufacturers of Xarelto designed the drug without a reverse agent that is necessary in blood thinners to help clot the blood in the event of a bleeding incident.
The two pretrial orders issued by U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon were in regards to document production control and the guidelines for the preservation of electronic communication pursuant to the litigation. A case management order was also issued, which laid out the framework for the selection and identification of initial bellwether plaintiffs. The a bellwether trial date was also set for February 6 in the Eastern District of Louisiana federal court. Another bellwether trial will take place there in March, followed by trials in Mississippi and Texas in April and May, respectively. The federal court district have not yet been identified for the latter two bellwether trials.
The Xarelto lawsuits at the heart of the multidistrict litigation claim that the pharmaceutical manufacturers Bayer Janssen failed to warn customers of the potential dangers associated with the company‘s blood thinning drug Xarelto, which has been linked to more than 1,200 lawsuits. Janssen is a subsidiary of another pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson. Both Bayer and Johnson & Johnson have claimed that they did not participate in any wrongdoing in the design of Xarelto, though it is likely that an evnetual settlement will be reached after a similar blood-thinning drug, Pradaxa, elicited a $650 million settlement that was paid out to more than 4,000 class members involved in the MDL against the drug‘s manufacturer Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Xarelto was marketed as a step up from longtime the blood-thinning go-to drug Warfarin and quickly took over as the top option for the medication, earning Bayer more than $2 billion at its peak during 2013. The drug was advertised as an improved version of Warfarin, but the discovery of the lack of a reverse agent began to cause major problems both for patients. Minor bleeding incidents were transformed into major injuries, many times resulting in death. Xarelto didn‘t leave a patient with the ability to clot during a bleeding accient, causing cuts and wounds to bleed uncontrollably.
Warfarin employed Vitamin K as a revese agent, which would staunch bleeding in the event that a patients skin was punctured. Xarelto, as well as its contemporary blood-thinning medication Pradaxa, lacked the presence of a reverse agent such as Vitamin K, rendering the newer version of Warfarin as an inferior alternative. A 2012 study had already identified more than 350 serious injuries or deaths caused by Xarelto, and that was a year before the drug‘s monetary peak. More than 65 deaths have been attributed to Xarelto.
A number of trial preparation steps will take place between the recent pretrial order and the beginning of the first bellwether trial, including jury questionaires and The charges being brought against the defendants. More than 500 separate lawsuits are currently included in the Xarleto MDL.