After a number of delays, the first in a series of four bellwether trials in the Xarelto Products Liability Litigation (MDL No. 2592) has been set for April 24, 2017 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans.
The Xarelto MDL is a consolidation of 50 lawsuits brought by patients and families against Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, for allegedly concealing the internal bleeding risks of the blood-thinning drug, Xarelto.
The trials were originally set to begin in mid-2016. These four trials will act as a testing ground for more than 15,000 lawsuits pending against the drug’s manufacturer and distributor.
Xarelto (rivaroxaban) is a blood thinner which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved for sale in the U.S. in 2011 to lower the risk of strokes and blood clots in patients with non-heart valve-related atrial fibrillation.
Doctors also prescribe the drug to treat deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) and to reduce the risk of blood clots in patients who have undergone knee or hip replacement surgery.
Within a few months after Xarelto hit the U.S. market, the FDA had received thousands of reports of “serious adverse events” involving the drug – specifically episodes of excessive internal bleeding.
In January 2014, the FDA issued a labeling change to add a warning about the risk of bleeding and to advise that there was no antidote or reversal agent for the drug.
Since the purpose of blood thinners is to keep dangerous blood clots from forming, having an antidote is essential in case there is a medical emergency, and the bleeding must be stopped.
Blood clots are necessary whenever you have internal or external bleeding. Something as simple as a bruise can trigger an emergency if you cannot stop the internal bleeding.
Other blood thinners like warfarin (Coumadin), which is an older drug and the most widely used anticoagulant/blood thinner in the U.S., have several effective antidotes that work at different speeds.
Injured patients claim that Xarelto causes uncontrollable bleeding, or hemorrhaging, which can potentially result in death. They also allege that the manufacturers failed to adequately warn about the blood thinner’s alleged internal bleeding risks and about the lack of an antidote/reversal agent.
“Bellwether trials” serve as a way of resolving mass torts claims in situations where a class action would be inappropriate. Bellwether proceedings involve selecting a small group of plaintiffs and expediting their cases for discovery and trial.
It is a way to examine a select number of claims closely and to later apply similar principles in the remaining cases.
Bellwether trials potentially have value for both sides. They allow plaintiffs to see which arguments work well with juries and to assess the amount which may be awarded in damages. For the defendants, the trials may help them to get a better idea of how much exposure they have in liability and damages.
Each of the four Xarelto MDL bellwether trials is set to be held about a month apart. Two will be held in Louisiana, one in Mississippi and one in Texas.
The trial schedule is as follows:
If you believe that you or a loved one suffered an excessive internal bleeding episode related to Xarelto use, please contact the attorneys of Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. to discuss your case in a free consultation.