Xarelto Plaintiffs Ask Federal Panel to Consolidate Cases into MDL
A federal panel will meet tomorrow to hear a plaintiffs’ motion that lawsuits about the blood-thinning drug, Xarelto, should be consolidated into a multidistrict litigation (MDL). The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation will convene in Charleston, SC, to hear the MDL motion.
The number of federal Xarelto lawsuits nationwide has grown to at least 30 petitions in 14 federal districts, up from just six cases that I was able to identify when I first posted about Xarelto in August. Those first six suits include four wrongful death claims after Xarelto patients died from uncontrollable bleeding.
Unlike a class action, in multidistrict litigation, each of the lawsuits remains a separate legal action. However, the process enables plaintiffs’ attorneys to work together during discovery. The process also identifies one or more bellwether cases which are heard first, the outcomes of which often set the parameters for a settlement in hundreds or thousands of similar cases.
The Xarelto plaintiffs’ MDL motion requests that the MDL be assigned to U.S. District Judge David R. Herndon, Southern District of Illinois. Herndon is the judge in the Pradaxa MDL. Pradaxa is another anticoagulant that has allegedly led to thousands of deaths and serious injuries due to uncontrollable bleeding.
In May, Pradaxa manufacturer Boehringer Ingelheim agreed to a $650 million settlement to resolve about 4,000 pending Pradaxa lawsuits. That’s an average of $162,500 per lawsuits. Despite the settlement announcement, the most recent report from the MDL Panel, issued on Nov. 17, revealed that 2,475 Pradaxa lawsuits are still pending. [For more information about Pradaxa, see our webpage: “Pradaxa No. 1 on FDA List of Drugs with Serious Adverse Effects”.]
Defendants in the Xarelto complaints are German pharmaceutical giant, Bayer, and its U.S. distributor, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary. Plaintiffs allege the pharmaceutical companies did not warn doctors or the public that using the drug can result in uncontrollable bleeding.
Xarelto (rivaroxaban) was approved by the FDA in 2011. Doctors prescribe Xarelto as an anticoagulant (“direct thrombin inhibitor”) for patients who are susceptible to blood clots, such as patients who have had a hip or knee replacement or have non-valvular atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat).
Xarelto has quickly become one of the nation’s most popular prescription drugs, with more than $1 billion in annual sales. However, the FDA warned Johnson & Johnson in June 2013 that its advertising was “false or misleading because it minimizes the risks associated with Xarelto.” Ironically, one reason Xarelto sales have skyrocketed is because of complaints against Pradaxa of uncontrollable bleeding.
At the heart of both the Xarelto and Pradaxa complaints is the fact that there are no known reversal agents to stop the drugs’ anticoagulation effects. Bayer and Janssen have promoted Xarelto as a better anticoagulant than warfarin (Coumadin), which has been used in the U.S. since 1954. Warfarin requires frequent monitoring to adjust the dosage; Xarelto does not.
However, Warfarin has a reversal agent, Vitamin K, which can be given to a patient experiencing uncontrollable bleeding to quickly reverse the drugs’ blood-thinning effect. Xarelto has no reversal agent.
Plaintiffs argue that the manufacturers should not have promoted the drugs as good alternatives to warfarin without warning about the lack of a reversal agents band the possibility of death from uncontrollable internal bleeding.
For more about Xarelto, see our webpage: “Blood Thinner Xarelto Draws Lawsuits.”
If you have experienced harms and damages due to taking Xarelto, or if you have lost a loved one who was a Xarelto patient and died from bleeding, you may be entitled to compensation.
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