Xarelto Bleeding Cases Moving Toward Trials in Early 2017

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Individuals who have filed lawsuits against the makers of the blood thinner Xarelto are looking toward the first cases to be heard in court in 2017.

Judge Eldon E. Fallon of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana has set dates for bellwether trials in the multidistrict litigation (MDL) to begin in early 2017. The selection and scheduling process is underway, the Pennsylvania Record reports.

The plaintiffs in the Xarelto cases allege that Bayer AG and Janssen Pharmaceuticals failed to properly warn patients that Xarelto use presented increased risks of cranial and gastrointestinal bleeding.

Forty bellwether cases are being selected from the pool of all cases. Bellwether cases allow the parties involved to see how jurors react to evidence and arguments. The first two bellwether cases have been scheduled for February 6 and March 13, 2017, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The third and fourth bellwether cases will be heard on April 24 and May 30, 2017, in federal courts in Mississippi and Texas. The specific cases have not yet been selected, and the locations for the third and fourth cases are subject to change, according to the Pennsylvania Record.

An additional group of cases is being handled in a mass tort program in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. An attorney in Philadelphia explains that the choice of whether to file in federal or state court may depend on such factors as which court the attorney is more familiar with and the laws of the state in which the plaintiff resides. Many attorneys like to work in the federal system because of the uniformity of the rules of civil procedure and the ease in monitoring developments, the attorney said.

The outcome of bellwether cases can be significant to future litigation. If the early cases are fairly consistently decided one way, that can play a role in settlement discussions.

In the five years since Xarelto (rivaroxaban) received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, it has become a popular alternative to the older blood thinner, warfarin. Xarelto’s popularity is due in part to the perceived ease and freedom of Xarelto use compared to the older blood thinner warfarin, and the drug maker has promoted this convenience. Warfarin users must undergo regular blood testing and follow dietary restrictions. But though warfarin users face sometimes burdensome restrictions, warfarin has an important safeguard. There is an antidote available for warfarin users in the event of a bleeding episode but there is no known antidote for Xarelto bleeding. Many Xarelto users say the drug makers put them at risk of injury or death by bringing the drug to market without an antidote.

A recently filed lawsuit raises another concern about Xarelto: What is the proper dose? In a lawsuit filed in October 2015, a man says the once-daily does—the same for all patients regardless of size or weight—is not effective for every patient. He suffered a stroke only four days after beginning to take Xarelto to reduce the risk of stroke due to atrial fibrillation, Digital Journal reports. He suggests that some patients may need to take Xarelto twice a day and blood monitoring may be necessary.