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A federal jury in West Virginia has determined that Boehringer Ingelheim should be required to pay $1.25 million in compensation to the family of a woman who suffered fatal gastrointestinal bleeding due to the side effects of Pradaxa, raising similar allegations to those presented in a number of other claims over the controversial, new-generation blood thinner.
The wrongful death lawsuit was brought by the family of Betty Knight in May 2015, alleging that the drug manufacturer failed to provide adequate warnings about the Pradaxa bleeding risks to the medical community and to consumers.
Knight began taking the medication in October 2011, for the treatment of non-valvular atrial fibrillation. According to evidence presented at trial, she suffered uncontrollable bleeding in May 2013, and died on September 2, 2013.
Last week, a jury in the Southern District of West Virginia determined that Boehringer Ingelheim should compensate Knight’s family $50,000 for medical expenses and $200,000 in pain and suffering, then added an additional $1 million in punitive damages, which are designed to punish the drug maker for failing to warn about the risks associated with their anticoagulant.
At one time, Boehringer Ingelheim faced more than 4,000 Pradaxa bleeding lawsuits, each involving similar allegations that individuals suffered severe and fatal bleeding events while using the medication, which was introduced in October 2010 as a superior alternative to warfarin. However, while the decades-old anticoagulant warfarin has a known and effective reversal agent, allowing doctors to control and stop bleeds that may occur during use, Pradaxa was introduced without an approved antidote, leaving many doctors helpless to treat bleeding patients who were prescribed the new anticoagulant.
Following several years of consolidated proceedings in a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL), Boehringer Ingelheim reached a Pradaxa settlement agreement that resolved most cases in 2014. However, the Pradaxa wrongful death lawsuit filed by Knight’s family was not settled, and a number of similar claims are still pending nationwide.