Xarelto Bellwether Trials Pushed Back, Set to Begin March 13, 2017

The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal Xarelto lawsuits has pushed back the start of the first bellwether trial to March 2017, indicating that a delay of about one month is necessary due to the hosting of the NBA All-Star game in New Orleans.

Lawyers nationwide will be closely watching the first Xarelto bellwether trials, which are designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and allegations that will be repeated throughout more than 10,000 other cases brought by individuals nationwide.

Each of the complaints allege that Bayer Healthcare and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals subsidiary failed to provide adequate warnings about the bleeding risks associated with side effects of Xarelto, as well as the lack of an effective reversal agent that could have allowed doctors to stop bleeding that may develop among users of the new-generation anticoagulant.

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Given similar questions of fact and law presented in the claims, the Xarelto litigation is currently centralized before U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon in the Eastern District of Louisiana, where a small group of cases have been prepared for early trial dates that were expected to begin in February 2017.

According to a case management order (PDF) issued late last month, the first case is now scheduled to begin on March 13, 2017 in the Eastern District of Louisiana. That bellwether trial will be followed by a second New Orleans trial on April 24, with additional cases scheduled to proceeding to trial in the Southern District of Mississippi on May 30 and the Northern District of Texas at a date that has yet to be determined.

While the outcome of these early test cases will not be binding on other plaintiffs, they are designed to help facilitate eventual Xarelto settlements in other cases, potentially avoiding thousands of individual cases going before juries nationwide.

The NBA All-Star game will be held in New Orleans this year, with festivities scheduled the entire week of February 17. Therefore, the parties requested a postponement of the initial Xarelto bellwether trial due to logistical issues that will be created by the game.

The order also established revised dates for trial discovery deadlines, expert schedules and other issues necessary to prepare the four bellwether cases for trial.

Xarelto Bleeding Problems

Xarelto (rivaroxoaban) is a new-generation anticoagulant that was introduced in 2011 as an alternative for Coumadin (warfarin), which has been the go-to anticoagulant treatment for decades.

The drug is part of a new class of medications, which are have been promoted as easier to use than warfarin. However, since the drugs have hit the market, there have been a large number of reports involving severe and sometimes fatal bleeding problems with Xarelto and other members of this new class, including Pradaxa and Eliquis.

While all blood thinners carry a risk of bleeding injury, the side effects of warfarin can be quickly reversed with a widely known antidote of bleeding occurs. However, there was no Xarelto reversal agent when the drug was introduced. Plaintiffs allege that the drug makers failed to adequately warn doctors about the lack of an antidote.

Similar claims were raised in the litigation over Pradaxa, which was introduced in October 2010, one year before Xarelto hit the market.

More than 4,000 Pradaxa lawsuits were ultimately filed by users of that drug who suffered bleeding injuries. Following several years of litigation, the manufacturer of that medication ultimately agreed to pay $650 million in Pradaxa settlements just before the first bellwether trials were set to begin, with an average of about $150,000 per claim.

As Xarelto bleeding lawyers continue to review potential cases for individuals prescribed the anticoagulant throughout the United States, the number of complaints has surpassed the number of claims involved in the Pradaxa litigation, as the drug has become more widely used in recent years.

If settlements are not reached following the series of bellwether trials, which are designed to be representative of other claims, thousands of individual Xarelto cases may be remanded back to the U.S. District Courts where they were originally filed for separate trial dates.

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