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Xarelto MDL Centralized in Louisiana for Pretrial Litigation

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The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has decided to consolidate and centralize all Xarelto lawsuits filed in federal courts nationwide before U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon in the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Following oral arguments earlier this month, a transfer order (PDF) was issued on December 12, establishing a Xarelto MDL (multidistrict litigation) to reduce the risk of duplicative discovery into common issues in the cases, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different judges and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.

There are currently at least 21 complaints filed in 10 different U.S. District Courts that will be transferred to the MDL, but dozen of additional cases are likely to be transferred in the coming weeks. In addition, as Xarelto injury lawyers continue to review and file complaints on behalf of individuals who experienced uncontrollable bleeding, it is widely expected that several thousand cases will ultimately be transferred in the MDL.

All of the cases involve similar allegations that Bayer and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen subsidiary failed to adequately warn consumers and the medical community about the potential bleeding risks with Xarelto, which is a new-generation anti-coagulant that has been introduced in recent years as an alternative to warfarin. However, unlike warfarin, there is no reversal agent for Xarelto to stop the blood thinning effects of the medication, leading to a number of reports involving severe injury or death associated with uncontrollable bleeding.

The MDL order comes in response to a request filed by a group of plaintiffs in October, which urged the U.S. JPML to centralize all Xarelto cases in the Southern District of Illinois.

While the manufacturers of Xarelto opposed the creation of an MDL, indicating that the litigation will be dominated by individualized facts of each case, Bayer and Janssen argued that if the U.S JPML does centralize the cases, they should be transferred to the District of New Jersey, where both manufacturers are based.

Following a hearing session on December 4, the U.S. JPML determined that all of the complaints involve sufficiently similar questions of fact and law to justify centralized management before one judge as part of an MDL.

“In our judgment, the considerable growth in the litigation over the past few months demonstrates that informal coordination is not practicable,” the judges noted in their ruling. “The present motion encompasses 21 constituent actions and over 30 potential tag-along actions, which are pending in a total of 22 districts. There are over two dozen involved plaintiffs’ firms and discovery located in a foreign country, which will make effective informal coordination of discovery and other pretrial matters unlikely.”

The Xarelto litigation has been centralized before Judge Fallon, who previously oversaw the MDL proceedings for thousands of Avandia lawsuits, Chineses drywall lawsuits and several other complex product liability claims.

“Judge Eldon E. Fallon, who presides over three potential tag-along (Xarelto) actions, is an experienced transferee judge with the willingness and ability to manage this litigation efficiently,” wrote the U.S. JPML. “He is well-versed in multidistrict litigation, and we are confident he will steer this matter on a prudent course.”

Xarelto Bleeding Side Effects

Xarelto (rivaroxoaban) was introduced by Bayer and Janssen in 2011, as part of a new generation of anticoagulants designed to take market share away from Coumadin (warfarin), which has been the go-to blood thinner for decades to prevent strokes among patients with atrial fibrillation for decades.

While all blood thinners carry a bleeding risk, Xarelto has been linked to a growing number of problems involving uncontrollable bleeding injuries as more patients are switched to the new generation drug.

Unlike warfarin, for which the blood thinning effects of the medication can be quickly reversed in the case of an emergency, allowing blood to clot, there is no approved antidote available for users of Xarelto. As a result, many of the bleeding injuries have resulted in severe outcomes, after doctors were unable to control the bleeds.

Despite the reports of bleeding problems, Xarelto has been promoted as superior to warfarin, with the drug makers indicating that it is easier to use, since it does not require regular blood monitoring. However, several recent studies have raised questions about those claims, with researchers suggesting that Xarelto blood monitoring may actually help doctors identify patients at the greatest risk of bleeding.

As part of the coordinated pretrial proceedings before Judge Fallon, it is expected that a small group of cases will be prepared for early trial dates in the MDL. Known as “bellwether” cases, the outcomes of these cases are designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony, potentially facilitating Xarelto settlements.

If the parties fail to settle or otherwise resolve the litigation following pretrial proceedings, Judge Fallon may ultimately remand cases back to the U.S. Districts where they were originally filed for separate trial dates in the future.

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