Defense Verdict Returned in First Xarelto Bellwether Trial

A federal jury in New Orleans has returned a defense verdict in favor of Bayer and Johnson & Johnson, in the first bellwether trial for more than 15,000 claims over the alleged failure to warn about the bleeding risk with Xarelto. 

The trial involved a lawsuit filed by Joseph Boudreaux, Jr., which was selected as the first in a series of bellwether trials scheduled over the next few months to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that may be repeated throughout other cases in the litigation. Following less than a week of testimony and arguments, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana found that Bourdreaux failed to meet the necessary burden of proof.

All federal Xarelto lawsuits are currently centralized before U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon for coordinated discovery and management, as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.

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Additional Xarelto trial dates are scheduled to begin later this month in Louisiana, in June 2017 in Mississippi and in Texas in July 2017.

While the outcomes of these bellwether trials do not have any binding effect on other cases in the litigation, they are being closely watched by lawyers involved in the litigation, and may eventually influence negotiations to reach Xarelto settlements that would be necessary to avoid thousands of individual cases being set for trial in U.S. District Courts nationwide.

Xarelto Bleeding Problems

Xarelto (rivaroxoaban) is part of a new generation of novel oral anticoagulants, which was introduced in 2011 as an alternative to Coumadin (warfarin), which has been the go-to anti-clotting treatment for decades. Other medications in the same class include Pradaxa and Eliquis.

Since the medications were approved, they have been aggressively promoted by the drug makers as easier to use than warfarin. However, large numbers of adverse event reports have surfaced involving severe and sometimes fatal bleeding problems with Xarelto, Pradaxa and Eliquis.

While all blood thinners may cause bleeding, the side effects of warfarin can be quickly reversed with a widely known antidote. However, there was no Xarelto reversal agent when the drug was introduced, and plaintiffs allege that Bayer and Johnson & Johnson failed to adequately warn users and the medical community about the lack of an antidote, which led to severe and uncontrollable bleeds.

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.

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.

In recent months, there have also been an increasing number of Eliquis lawsuits filed over this newer member of the class, once again raising similar allegations that the drug maker failed to warn about the bleeding risk.

The next Xarelto bellwether trial is set to begin on May 30.

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