Jurors were convened in New Orleans earlier this week to begin hearing testimony in the nation’s first trial involving Xarelto, a blood thinner marketed by Bayer and Johnson & Johnson. As a bellwether trial, the outcome of the case could provide some insight into how other juries might rule in similar Xarelto lawsuits.
More than 18,000 personal injury lawsuits involving Xarelto have been centralized in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana. All of the claims were filed on behalf of individuals who allegedly suffered serious internal bleeding events and related complications due to treatment with the medication. Among other things, plaintiffs accuse Xarelto’s manufacturers of failing to provide doctors and patients with adequate warnings regarding its potential risks, especially the lack of an approved agent to reverse internal bleeding that sometimes occurs with its use.
Joseph Boudreaux’s Xarelto lawsuit was selected for the litigation’s first bellwether trial. According to his complaint, Mr. Boudreaux suffered a serious gastrointestinal bleed a mere month after he was prescribed Xarelto to prevent stroke. He spent a week in the ICU and has required several blood transfusions, along with other medical interventions.
“I don’t want anybody else to suffer like I have from that drug,” Mr. Boudreaux said recently, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) first approved Xarelto in October 2011 to prevent deep vein thrombosis in patients undergoing hip or knee replacement surgery. Its approved indications have been expanded several times to include: The prevention of strokes in people with atrial fibrillation; to treat and reduce the recurrence of blood clots; and to reduce the risk of stent thrombosis in patients with coronary artery disease.
Today, Xarelto is Bayer’s top-selling product, generating $3.24 billion in sales last year. It ranked number three for Johnson & Johnson, which logged $2.29 billion in Xarelto sales for 2016. However, plaintiffs claim that these sales were driven by misleading marketing claims that positioned Xarelto as a superior alternative to warfarin, a blood thinner that has been on the market for decades. Among other things, they point out that internal bleeding associated with warfarin can be stopped via the administration of vitamin K.
In addition to Mr. Boudreaux’s case, three other Xarelto lawsuits are scheduled for trial this year. A second New Orleans jury will be convened beginning on May 30th. A third trial will get underway 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.