Xarelto Lawsuit Plaintiffs Appeal Defense Verdicts in Federal Bellwether Trials

Published on April 24, 2018 by Laurie Villanueva

Three plaintiffs who were on the losing end of Xarelto lawsuits have filed petitions with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit seeking to vacate the defense verdicts.

According to Law.com, the appellate court’s final decision on the matter could affect more than 20,000 similar cases pending in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, where all federally-filed product liability claims involving Xarelto and its potential to cause uncontrollable internal bleeding have been centralized for the purposes of coordinated pretrial proceedings.

Xarelto Plaintiffs’ Appeal Brief Dispute’s Evidence Exclusions, Jury Instructions

All three of the Xarelto lawsuits now under appeal were selected for the multidistrict litigation’s bellwether trials, which were intended to provide some insight into how other juries might rule in similar claims.

In an opening brief filed with the 5th Circuit on April 23rd, attorneys for the three plaintiffs asserted that the trial court wrongly excluded evidence supporting their claims. Specifically, two plaintiffs were prohibited from telling jurors that the Xarelto label in other countries, including Canada and New Zealand, acknowledged the effectiveness of a blood test for assessing bleeding risks. The plaintiff in the third Xarelto trial was also unable to present findings from a Bayer-conducted study that supported the use of blood tests, which the brief argues “probably would have changed the outcome of trial.”

Plaintiffs further assert that the defendants in one of the trials were wrongly permitted to “elicit irrelevant and unduly prejudicial evidence from a defense witness about his wife’s use of Xarelto.”

Finally, the brief challenges jury instructions in all three trials.

Xarelto Bleeding Litigation

Xarelto is marketed jointly by Bayer and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals subsidiary. The blood thinner was initially approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in October 2011 and is currently indicated:

  • For prevention of stroke in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation.
  • For treatment of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.
  • To reduce the risk of recurrent deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.
  • To prevent deep vein thrombosis, which may result in pulmonary embolism, in patients undergoing hip or knee replacement surgery.

Plaintiffs pursuing Xarelto lawsuits claim that Bayer and Janssen understated the potential for serious internal bleeding and related complications associated with new-generation blood thinner and wrongly marketed it as an improvement to warfarin, a decade’s old medication 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, while there is no approved antidote for reversing incidents of Xarelto bleeding.

Finally, plaintiffs accuse the companies of failing to inform physicians that Xarelto patients could get a blood test to assess their risk of internal bleeding.

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