The federal multidistrict litigation housing thousands of Xarelto bleeding lawsuits has convened its third bellwether trial, following selection of a jury earlier this week.
Nearly 18,000 Xarelto lawsuits are pending in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, where all federally-filed product liability lawsuits involving the medication’s alleged bleeding side effects have been centralized for pretrial proceedings. The litigation’s bellwether trials are intended to test the strength of these cases, and their verdicts could provide insight into how juries might rule in similar claims involving the blood thinner.
This third bellwether Xarelto trial involves a plaintiff from Mississippi, and is being heard in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Mississippi. A nine-member jury – four men and five women – was impaneled on August 7th for a trial that is expected to last two-to-three weeks.
Xarelto was approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in October 2011. From the start, the blood thinner was marketed as an improvement over a much older drug called warfarin. Marketing materials for Xarelto highlight its one-size-fits-all dosing scheme and promise that patients using the drug will not require regular blood tests to ensure proper dosing. Such a testing regimen is standard with warfarin treatment.
Dora Mingo, the plaintiff selected for the third Xarelto bellwether trial, was treated with the drug in 2015, after she developed a deep vein thrombosis following hip replacement surgery. Shortly after, Mingo was diagnosed with severe anemia and an acute upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage, which was later found to be the result of a bleeding ulcer.
Mingo alleges that the internal bleeding she experienced was the direct result of Xarelto, which she alleges lacks adequate safety warnings and was defectively designed. Like other Xarelto plaintiffs, Mingo disputes that a single dosage level is appropriate for all patients, and claims that the drug should not have been marketed in the absence of a specific Anti-Factor Xa assay that would allow doctors to measure its anticoagulant effects. As no such tests exists, the complaint asserts that Xarelto’s label should have advised doctors that the Neoplastin PT test could be used to monitor Xarelto patients.
Mingo’s lawsuit also points out that there currently exists no approved antidote to reverse Xarelto’s anticoagulant action should internal bleeding occur. However, warfarin bleeding can be stopped by the administration of vitamin K.
The first two Xarelto bellwether trials were heard in the Eastern District of Louisiana, and concluded with defense verdicts. However, plaintiffs’ attorneys involved in the multidistrict litigation are optimistic that this upcoming trial will produce a different verdict.
“The next trial — in August — has its own distinctive set of claims and circumstances, and we look forward to having a jury hear that evidence,” one of them said recently, according to The National Law Journal.
A fourth Xarelto bellwether trial is scheduled for January in Texas federal court.