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While tens of thousands of lawsuits have proceeded through the federal court system in recent years involving individuals who suffered uncontrollable bleeding on Xarelto and Pradaxa, a growing number of Eliquis lawsuits are now moving forward over similar problems linked to this third member of the same new class of anticoagulants.
Eliquis, Xarelto and Pradaxa are all part of a new crop of blood thinners introduced in recent years, which have been aggressively marketed as replacements for Coumadin (warfarin) for prevention of blood clots. However, unlike warfarin, these novel oral anticoagulants were introduced without a proven antidote available to reverse the blood thinning effects of the drugs, resulting in a large number of reports involving bleed problems with Eliquis, Xarelto and Pradaxa, often resulting in hospitalization or death.
After Pradaxa was the first member of this class introduced in October 2010, it quickly became the subject of several thousand lawsuits filed in courts nationwide, each involving allegations that the drug maker failed to adequately warn about the bleeding risk or lack of a Pradaxa reversal agent, which often left doctors helpless to stop bleeds that developed during use. Following several years of litigation, the manufacturer of that drug agreed to pay $650 million in Pradaxa settlements to resolve about 4,000 cases in 2014.
Xarelto was the second member of this class to hit the market in the U.S., and quickly grew to become the top selling novel oral anticoagulant after it was introduced in 2011. However, there are now more than 15,000 Xarelto lawsuits pending nationwide, each involving similar allegations that users suffered severe and often fatal bleeding complications.
Following completion of generic discovery, a small group of Xarelto bellwether cases have been prepared for early trial dates, which are currently scheduled to begin in April. While the outcome of these Xarelto trials are not binding on other claims, they are designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the litigation.
While concerns over the safety of Xarelto and Pradaxa gained widespread attention, Eliquis has quietly became the most widely used member of this new class of drugs, and there is now rapidly growing litigation over that drug maker’s failure to warn about the side effects of Eliquis.
In February, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established consolidated pretrial proceedings for all Eliquis cases brought throughout the federal court system, centralizing the lawsuits before U.S. District Judge Denise L. Cote in the Southern District of New York for pretrial proceedings.
Following an initial conference last month, Judge Cote issued a scheduling order (PDF), which outlines the path for moving the Eliquis litigation forward.
By the end of this week, proposals will be submitted regarding the establishment of a Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, which will include a group of Eliquis lawyers who will take certain actions during discovery and pretrial proceedings that benefit all individuals who are pursuing a case.
Judge Cote has also directed the parties to submit a proposed case management order regarding the initial exchange of plaintiff fact sheets by April 14, as well as a proposed coordination order for state and federal Eliquis litigation by April 28.
Following an initial exchange of interrogatories and document requests next month, the parties will submit a proposed discovery scheduled to the Court by June 2, 2017, which will likely outline the process for exchange information relevant to all cases over the remainder of this year.
As part of the coordinated pretrial proceedings, it is likely that Judge Cote will establish a bellwether process in the future, which may involve a small group of Eliquis cases that will be prepared for early trial dates. However, the first case is unlikely to go before a jury until late 2018, unless Eliquis settlements are reached to resolve large numbers of claims prior to that time.