The litigation involving Xarelto will kick into high gear next month, as a Louisiana federal court prepares to convene the nation’s first bellwether trial. The case is being closely watched, as its outcome could provide some clues as to how juries might rule in similar lawsuits involving Xarelto and internal bleeding.
The U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, is home to more than 15,600 Xarelto lawsuits, all of which were filed on behalf of individuals who allegedly experienced internal bleeding and related complications due to its use. The proceeding has scheduled four bellwether trials, the first of which will get underway on April 24th in New Orleans. A second trial will begin on May 30th, also in New Orleans. A third trial will be convened in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Mississippi in June; while the fourth will begin in July in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas.
The jury empaneled for next month’s trial will hear a lawsuit filed on behalf of Joseph Boudreaux, Jr., who claims to have suffered a severe gastrointestinal bleed just a month after he began treatment with Xarelto. Mr. Boudreaux was prescribed Xarelto to reduce the risk of stroke from atrial fibrillation. He was forced to undergo several transfusions due to the bleeding event he experienced, and was hospitalized for five days. He has since required follow-up medical care.
Mr. Boudreaux and other plaintiffs accuse Xarleto’s manufacturers of concealing their knowledge of the drug’s defects from physicians and patients.
Xarelto is manufactured by Bayer AG, and is marketed in the U.S. by Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) initially approved the medication in October 2011 to prevent deep vein thrombosis in patients undergoing hip or knee replacement surgery. Its approved uses have since been expanded to include the prevention of strokes in people with atrial fibrillation and to treat and reduce the recurrence of blood clots. Xarelto is also indicated to reduce the risk of stent thrombosis in patients with coronary artery disease.
The manufacturers of Xarelto have positioned the medication as an improvement over warfarin, a blood thinner that was considered the standard anticoagulant for decades. However, plaintiffs pursuing Xarelto lawsuits dispute this characterization and point out that internal bleeding associated with warfarin can be stopped via the administration of vitamin K. There is currently no approved antidote to reverse internal bleeding that sometimes occurs with Xarelto use.
In a recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Johnson & Johnson reported that it had been named a defendant in 16,900 Xarelto lawsuits. In addition to the claims pending in Louisiana, more than 1,300 cases have been filed in a mass tort litigation underway in Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. Additional lawsuits have been filed in Delaware, California and Missouri, while class action complaints are also pending in Canada.