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A Philadelphia jury has ordered Bayer and Johnson & Johnson to pay $28 million to a woman who suffered severe gastrointestinal bleeding due to the side effects of Xarelto, a controversial anticoagulant that is the subject of nearly 20,000 other cases that raise similar claims that the drug makers failed to adequately warn consumers and the medical community about the bleeding risks.
Xarelto (rivaroxoaban) was introduced in 2011, as the second member of a new class of drugs known as novel oral anticoagulants. The drugs were 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 and often fatal bleeding problems began to emerge, a mounting number of Xarelto lawsuits began to be filed against the drugs manufacturers.
The trial was the first to take place in Pennsylvania state court, where about 1,500 claims have been filed. However, more than 18,000 more Xarelto cases are pending in the federal court system, where centralized pretrial proceedings have been established.
Each of the claims raise similar allegations involving uncontrollable gastrointestinal bleeding, brain bleeds or other injuries that occurred after doctors were unable to stop hemorrhaging among users of Xarelto. Plaintiffs claim that the drug makers provided false and misleading information for consumers and the medical community, failing to adequately warn about the risks associated with their medication.
The jury awarded Lynn Hartmann $1.8 million in compensatory damages, but added an additional $26 million in punitive damages designed to punish the companies for recklessly disregarding the health and safety of patients.
The verdict is the first victory for plaintiffs, after three prior federal trials resulting in defense verdicts. However, additional bellwether trials are expected to help the parties gauge how different juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation.
While the outcomes of these early bellwether trials are not binding on other plaintiffs with claims bending, they are closely watched by the parties, and may influence Xarelto settlements, which would be necessary to avoid the need for thousands of individual trials nationwide.