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Future of Xarelto Cases in MDL to be Addressed Later This Month

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Following a number of early bellwether trials with conflicting outcomes, the U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal Xarelto cases has called on the parties to submit briefs on how the consolidated litigation should proceed, with oral arguments scheduled for January 30, 2018.

Xarelto (rivaroxoaban) was introduced in 2011, as the second member of a new class of drugs known as novel oral anticoagulants, which were marketed as easier to use than warfarin, which had been the go-to anti-clotting treatment for decades. However, as an alarming number of adverse event reports involving severe Xarelto bleeding problems began to emerge, mounting litigation has been filed against the drug makers.

There are currently more than 18,000 product liability lawsuits pending in the federal court system, each raising similar allegations that users and the medical community were not adequately warned about the risk of uncontrollable bleeding injuries that may result from side effects of Xarelto.

Complaints filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide are currently centralized before U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon in the Eastern District of Louisiana, as part of a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL).

In a court order (PDF) issued on December 18, Judge Fallon called for parties to submit briefs by January 15, outlining proposals for how the MDL should proceed following the first round of bellwether trials. The order indicates that any responses must be filed by January 25, and the court will consider oral arguments following a status conference on January 30.

As part of the coordinated pretrial proceedings, Judge Fallon previously established a bellwether program, where small groups of representative cases have been set for early trial dates to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony. While three federal trials each ended in a defense verdict, a recent case that went to trial in Pennsylvania state court resulted in a $28 million verdict for the plaintiff last month.

Similar allegations were raised in thousands of Pradaxa lawsuits filed several years ago, as that medication hit the market before Xarelto. However, the maker of that competing drug 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.

Following any additional bellwether trials that may be scheduled in the MDL, if Xarelto settlements or another resolution for the litigation is not reached, it is likely that Judge Fallon will begin remaining thousands of individual cases back to U.S. District Courts nationwide for separate trial dates.

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