A new report suggests that the product liability litigation involving Xarelto could become large enough to warrant the creation of a mass tort proceeding. According to The Legal Intelligencer, some plaintiffs’ attorneys believe claims involving the blood thinner could ultimately go the way of Pradaxa lawsuits, which were consolidated in a federal multidistrict litigation that recently settled for $650 million.
So far, only a handful of Xarelto lawsuits have been filed in state and federal courts on behalf of individuals who allegedly suffered uncontrollable internal bleeding and other complications associated with its use. But since coming on the market in 2011, the blood thinner has been prescribed to millions of people, and sales have hit the $1 billion mark.
A mass tort proceeding allows product liability lawsuits involving similar questions of fact to go through coordinated pretrial proceedings, including discovery. These consolidated litigations enable the efficient prosecution of a large number of claims involving a single product, thereby preserving the resources of the courts, parties and witnesses. Mass tort litigations also avoid inconsistent rulings and duplicative discovery.
Xarelto is in the same class of medications as Pradaxa. Both were marketed as superior alternatives to warfarin, a blood thinner which has been on the market for decades. However, there currently exists no approved antidote for internal bleeding that can sometimes occur with the drugs. Warfarin bleeding, on the other hand, can be stopped via the administration of vitamin K.
This was a key issue in the Pradaxa litigation, and it is also what has prompted many of the Xarelto lawsuit filings now pending in U.S. courts. Among other things, plaintiffs allege that the manufacturers of the drug did not inform doctors about the risk of uncontrollable Xarelto bleeding or how to stabilize patients who experienced this side effect. The lawsuits also claim that the advertising used to market the medication made misleading statements about its risks and benefits.
Lawyers interviewed by The Legal Intelligencer said they are currently evaluating numerous Xarelto cases, and many law firms are actively pursuing clients. But it remains to be seen if there will ultimately be enough filings to warrant the creation of a mass tort proceeding in state or federal court.
Recently, evidence that calls the drug’s safety into question has mounted on several fronts. In May, for example, the Institute of Safe Medicine Practices revealed that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration had received a total of 680 Xarelto complication reports in the first quarter of 2013. For the first time, those reports outpaced complaints associated with Pradaxa.
In August, a study published in the Journal of Neurosurgery found that internal bleeding experienced by Xarelto patients is more difficult to stop when compared to some other blood thinners.