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Federal Xarelto Trials Slated to Begin Early 2017

scales of justiceFederal Judge Eldon Fallon has ordered the first round of bellwether trials alleging Xarelto-related bleeding injuries to begin in early 2017. The coordinated litigation, which is presiding in the Eastern District of Louisiana under the auspices of Judge Fallon, has grown considerably since its creation in December 2014. Plaintiffs claim that blood thinner Xarelto was manufactured and sold with inadequate warnings regarding the risk of life-threatening internal bleeding.

According to the September 2015 MDL case list, nearly 1,700 Xarelto lawsuits are currently pending in the federal multidistrict litigation, which was established to help expedite pretrial processes, while conserving judicial resources.

Xarelto MDL judge issues case management order

Earlier this month Judge Fallon issued a case management order detailing the necessary steps for eventual bellwether trials, which are frequently used as a gauge to see how jurors will react to evidence and testimony that focuses on similar allegations across hundreds of plaintiffs. Four Xarelto cases will go before a jury between February and May 2017.

In the case management order, Judge Fallon noted that the bellwether cases will be drawn from a pool of 40 lawsuits that will be selected by both parties by January 2016. The next step is then case-specific discovery for each of the claims, in which treating and prescribing doctors, drug sales representatives and plaintiffs will give sworn, out-of-court testimony known as depositions.

Judge Fallon has scheduled the Xarelto trials to take place on the following dates:

  • February 6, 2017 in the Eastern District of Louisiana
  • March 13, 2017 in the Eastern District of Louisiana
  • April 24, 2017 in Mississippi federal court (district will be determined at later date)
  • May 30, 2017 in Texas federal court (district will be determined at later date)

The final outcomes of these initial trials have no influence on other Xarelto plaintiffs’ claims to compensation, but they may spark interest in settlement negotiations, should jurors hand down large judgments against the defendants, Bayer and Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

Xarelto bleeding injuries alleged

Therapy with anticoagulant drugs carries some inherent risk of bleeding, but Xarelto (rivaroxaban) has been associated with a disproportionately high rate of bleeding events, including gastrointestinal hemorrhages, cerebral bleeding, abdominal and rectal bleeds. The problem with Xarelto is that once bleeding starts, doctors have very little recourse for treatment, since the drug has no proven antidote.

Plaintiffs argue that Bayer and Janssen were negligent in the marketing of Xarelto as a safer and more convenient therapy than Warfarin, which does have a reversal agent. Jurors will eventually be tasked with determining whether the defendants purposely misled the public about Xarelto risks and side effects, and whether the drug is dangerous even when used for its intended purpose.

Given the immense popularity of Xarelto, which was launched in 2011, legal experts predict that the litigation regarding bleeding injuries and deaths will escalate tremendously, perhaps eclipsing that of Pradaxa litigation, which ended with a global settlement this year. The $650 million Pradaxa settlement resulted in payouts of roughly $150,000 per case.

Pradaxa was another profitable blood thinning medication, made by Boehringer Ingelheim, that was also linked to irreversible bleeds.