The manufacturer of Xarelto has asked the Pennsylvania court overseeing hundreds of product liability lawsuits involving the blood thinner to dismiss claims for punitive from two cases, including a lawsuit set to go to trial in November.
In a motion filed with the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on September 8th, Bayer posits that the two Xarelto lawsuits should be subject to German or New Jersey law, as the conduct alleged in the complaints occurred in those locales.
“Because both German and New Jersey law categorically bar punitive damages in prescription-drug cases, the court can and should dismiss plaintiffs’ punitive-damages demands against the Bayer defendants in both cases as a matter of law,” the company’s motion states.
According to The Legal Intelligencer, Xarelto plaintiffs are also pursuing their own motions to bar four expert witnesses from testifying on behalf of Janssen, which is also a defendant in the litigation. One of the motions holds that the testimony of Dr. James Reiffel, who is expected to assert that attorney advertising causes many patients to avoid blood-thinning medications, is irrelevant, as none of the Xarelto plaintiffs refused anticoagulant therapy. If the motion is granted, the decision would apply to all of the claims pending in the Philadelphia mass tort program.
A second motion asks the Court to bar three physicians from testifying that anticoagulant-related bleeds can lead to early detection of some underlying conditions.
“The praise by these three experts of anticoagulant-related bleeding events as a beneficial source for the early detection of underlying pathologies in not admissible, not only because it is unreliable, as addressed in the section above, but also because none of the bellwether plaintiffs had an underlying pathology that was detected and treated early as a result of their bleeding event,” the motion said.
At least 1,500 Xarelto lawsuits are pending in the Philadelphia mass tort program. More than 18,000 similar cases have been consolidated in a multidistrict litigation now underway in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana. All of these lawsuits were filed on behalf of individuals who allegedly suffered gastrointestinal bleeding, cerebral hemorrhage, strokes, and other internal bleeding side effects allegedly related to treatment with Xarelto.
Among other things, plaintiffs claim that Xarelto’s sales were driven by misleading marketing that wrongly positioned the medication as a superior alternative to warfarin, a decades-old blood thinner sold under the brand-name Coumadin. Among other things, they point out that internal bleeding associated with warfarin can be stopped via the administration of vitamin K. However, there is currently no approved antidote to reverse Xarelto’s anticoagulant effects.
The Pennsylvania Xarelto litigation is scheduled to convene its first bellwether trial in November. Three trials have already concluded in the federal litigation, all with defense verdicts. Another federal bellwether trial is scheduled to get underway this Fall.