Three Xarelto lawsuits are headed to trial starting next month in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, the home of a mass tort program that includes more than 1,700 product liability claims involving the controversial blood-thinning medication. (In Re: Xarelto Litigation, Case No. 150102349)
Pennsylvania concluded its first Xarelto trial late last year, when a Philadelphia jury awarded $28 million in compensatory and punitive damages to an Indiana woman who suffered a gastrointestinal bleed after taking the medication for a little over a year. However, the trial court dismissed the verdict in January, after finding that the evidence presented was insufficient to justify the massive award.
The plaintiff is appealing that decision.
Meanwhile, the remaining Pennsylvania plaintiffs have asked the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas to grant them leave to amend their Master Complaint in order to “reorganize the allegations and provide more details about the actions and inactions that form the bases of already-existing causes of action.”
However, Bayer and Johnson & Johnson have voiced strong opposition to their request.
“Plaintiffs should be required to complete this bellwether stage of the litigation under their existing pleadings,” the companies argued in briefs dated March 5th. “To allow otherwise, on the very eve of trial, would inject significant prejudice into the administration of these cases.”
Bayer and Johnson & Johnson are named defendants in more than 21,000 Xarelto lawsuits nationwide, all of which were filed on behalf of patients who allegedly suffered life-threatening internal bleeding events and related side effects associated with its use.
The companies are accused of understating the risks associated with Xarelto and of wrongly marketing the drug as an improvement over the much-older blood thinner, warfarin. Among other things, they 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 bleeding that may occur in Xarelto patients.
The majority of Xarelto lawsuits are currently pending in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, where all such federal claims have been centralized for coordinated pretrial proceedings.
The federal litigation has already convened three bellwether trials, all of which ended with verdicts for plaintiffs. The judge overseeing the proceeding recently ordered that 1,200 Xarelto lawsuits be selected for remand to their original court of filing for trial.