U.S. JPML to Consider Xarelto MDL Motion on Dec. 4

A panel of federal judges has scheduled oral arguments for early December, to consider a motion filed this month that seeks to centralize all Xarelto bleeding lawsuits before one judge for coordinated management as part of an MDL, or Multi-District Litigation.

According to a schedule of oral arguments (PDF), the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation will consider whether to establish a Xarelto MDL during their next hearing, which is set for December 4th in Charleston, South Carolina.

On October 15, a group of plaintiffs filed a motion to consolidate the Xarelto litigation before U.S. District Judge David R. Herndon in the Southern District of Illinois to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues raised in a mounting number of cases, as well as to avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different judges and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.

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Bayer and Johnson & Johnson face at least 21 product liability lawsuits filed in 10 separate district courts nationwide, which all involve similar allegations that side effects of Xarelto caused users to suffer bleeding problems. In addition to claims for severe and permanent injuries, a number of Xarelto wrongful death lawsuits have been filed by families of individuals who suffered fatal bleeds.

As Xarelto injury lawyers continue to review and file additional cases, it is ultimately expected that several thousand cases may ultimately be brought in the coming months, all involving similar allegations that the manufacturers of the drug failed to provide adequate warnings about the risk of severe bleeding and the lack of an approved reversal agent.

According to a briefing schedule issued by the U.S. JPML, the drug makers have until October 31 to respond to the motion. Therefore, it is unknown at this time whether Bayer and Johnson & Johnson will support the formation of an MDL for Xarelto lawsuits, or whether they may propose a different judge to preside over the litigation.

Xarelto Lawsuit Allegations

Xarelto (rivaroxoaban) was introduced by Bayer and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals in 2011, as part of a new generation of anticoagulants promoted as a superior alternative to Coumadin (warfarin), which has been the go-to blood thinner for prevention of strokes among patients with atrial fibrillation for decades.

While all blood thinners carry a risk of bleeding problems, Xarelto and other members of this new generation of anticoagulants lack an approved antidote that doctors can use to reverse the effects of the drug. While doctors can quickly stop the blood thinning effects of warfarin, users of Xarelto have reported experiencing uncontrollable bleeding that physicians were unable to stop, often leading to severe injury or death.

In addition to claims that allege the drug makers failed to fully research potential Xarelto reversal agents or provide adequate warnings about the bleeding risks, many lawsuits allege that the medication was marketed in a reckless manner. While the drug makers have promoted that users do not need regular blood monitoring, recent studies have suggested that Xarelto monitoring may actually help doctors identify patients at risk of bleeding.

It is common for the U.S. JPML to establish MDL proceedings in pharmaceutical cases, where a large number of lawsuits allege that similar injuries were caused by the same medication. While the pretrial discovery and litigation process is often similar to how a Xarelto class action lawsuit would be handled, each case still remains an individual claim, where the plaintiffs must establish that the injury or death was caused by the drug maker’s failure to warn.

Following coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings in an MDL, a series of early trial dates may be scheduled to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation. However, if Xarelto settlement agreements are not reached following the pretrial proceedings, each individual case transferred into the MDL would be returned back to the U.S. District Court where it was originally filed for a separate trial.


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