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Attorneys involved in the federal Xarelto lawsuits are set to meet today to discuss key issues in the litigation and the process of moving the growing number of cases forward.
In December 2014, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established consolidated pretrial proceedings for all Xarelto cases filed against Bayer and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen subsidiary over the new-generation blood thinner, centralizing the cases before U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon in the Eastern District of Louisiana to reduce duplicative discovery, avoid conflicting rulings from different judges and to serve the convenience of the parties.
Bayer and Johnson & Johnson now face at least 220 product liability cases in the federal multi-district litigation (MDL), which all involve similar allegations that plaintiffs suffered severe, and often fatal, bleeding injuries were caused by Xarelto side effects.
Plaintiffs claim that the drug makers failed to adequately warn about the risk associated with the new-generation anticoagulant and the lack of an effective reversal agent for Xarelto, which left doctors unable to stop bleeds that may develop while using the drug.
According to an agenda (PDF) posted in advance of a status conference set for February 27, the parties are expected to discuss a number of recent pretrial issues with Judge Fallon, including the potential formation of a Master Complaint, a possible tolling agreement, protocols for producing documents during the discovery process, and a protective order to ensure that any such documents that reveal proprietary information.
The parties will also discuss how to best coordinate the federal Xarelto litigation with state court cases pending throughout the country.
Xarelto Bleeding Risks
Xarelto (rivaroxoaban) is a new-generation anticoagulant introduced in 2011 as a superior replacement for Coumadin (warfarin), which has been the “go-to” medication for prevention of blood clots and strokes among patients with atrial fibrillation for decades.
While all blood thinners carry a risk of bleeding injury, Xarelto has been linked to a surprising number of problems as more and more patients are switched to the novel anticoagulant.
Xarelto has been promoted as superior to warfarin, with the drug makers indicating that it is easier to use, since it does not require regular blood monitoring. However, several recent studies have raised questions about those claims, with researchers suggesting that Xarelto blood monitoring may actually help doctors identify patients at the greatest risk of bleeding.
In addition to failing to warn about the risk of bleeding and importance of blood monitoring, plaintiffs claim that drug makers withheld information about the lack of a Xarelto reversal agent, which doctors could use to stop hemorrhaging that may develop among users.
While warfarin’s blooding thinning effects can be quickly reversed in an emergency, there is no antidote for Xarelto.
With lawyers continuing to review and file new Xarelto cases for individuals who experienced a bleeding injury, the litigation will continue to grow and is expected to include several hundred, if not thousands, of claims.
As part of the coordinated pretrial proceedings before Judge Fallon, it is expected that a small group of lawsuits will be selected as “bellwether” cases, which will be prepared for early trial dates to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated in many cases.
While the outcomes of any early trial dates are not binding on other claims, they may facilitate potential Xarelto case settlements, which would avoid the need for hundreds of cases to go before juries throughout the U.S.