Panel Orders Consolidation of Xarelto Federal Court Lawsuits

Panel Orders Consolidation of Xarelto Federal Court Lawsuits

Posted By The Maher Law Firm || 15-Dec-2014

Dangerous Drugs Lawyers

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has ordered the consolidation of all federal court lawsuits filed against Johnson & Johnson's Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. unit and Bayer Corp. by those claiming to have suffered injuries after taking the prescription blood thinner,Xarelto.

In an order issued Friday, the JPML chose the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans as the site for the multidistrict litigation (MDL) proceedings. The MDL will now be named In re: Xarelto (Rivaroxaban) Products Liability Litigation (MDL No. 2592). Judge Eldon E. Fallon will preside over the MDL.

According to the panel, its decision will result in the immediate consolidation of 21 Xarelto lawsuits and 30 "potential tag-along actions" that have been filed in 22 federal district courts across the country, including the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami.

More claims will likely be filed in the coming months and included in the new MDL. Lawsuits are also pending in state courts across the U.S.

The purpose of consolidating lawsuits into a MDL is to save time and money for all parties during the pretrial process, which includes discovery and pretrial motions. The lawsuits remain separate and distinct from each other. When the pretrial process ends, the cases are returned to the federal district court where they were filed for trial.

Panel Rejects Drug Companies' Arguments

In reaching its decision, the JPML rejected the defendant drug companies' arguments against consolidation - specifically, their contention that the cases contained too many "individualized facts," such as the dosage, medical history and alleged injuries suffered by the different plaintiffs.

The panel found that those individualized facts did not negate the many common factual issues involved in the cases, including the plaintiffs' allegations that they (or their loved ones) suffered severe bleeding as the result of taking Xarelto and that the defendants failed to adequately warn prescribing doctors and patients about the risks associated with Xarelto. The two primary risks alleged are:

  • The potential for severe or fatal bleeding, and
  • The lack of a reversal agent, or antidote, to counteract Xarelto's anticoagulation effects.

"Issues concerning the development, manufacture, regulatory approval, labeling and marketing of Xarelto are thus common to all actions," the panel concluded.

Additionally, the JPML rejected the drug companies' arguments that the litigation lacked merit or that creating the MDL would lead to a flood of new claims. Those issues would be best left to the court overseeing the MDL, the panel held.

It should be noted that New Orleans is a different venue than what the majority of the plaintiffs and the defendants wanted if the cases were consolidated.

The majority of the plaintiffs had requested the MDL take place in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. That is the same court where cases involving another blood-thinning medication, Pradaxa (MDL No. 2385), were consolidated.

Meanwhile, the drug companies had asked for the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, which is closer to their corporate offices.

Background on Xarelto Litigation

Xarelto first hit the U.S. market in 2011. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the oral anticoagulant medication for three uses:

  • Prevention of blood clots after knee or hip replacement surgery
  • Reduction of the risk of blood clot-related strokes in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation
  • Treatment of blood clots in the legs (deep vein thrombosis) and lungs (pulmonary embolism).

Bayer designed Xarelto, which is sold in the U.S. by Janssen Pharmaceuticals. According to Bloomberg, Xarelto sales hit $414 million in the U.S. in the third quarter alone in 2014.

However, in court filings, plaintiffs have claimed that the defendant drug companies did not properly test Xarelto before it reached the U.S. market and have overstated the drug's benefits while downplaying its risks, Bloomberg states.

According to the media outlet, citing court documents, the plaintiffs claim that Xarelto has been associated with 65 deaths and roughly 1,000 FDA adverse event reports.

If you or your loved one has suffered harm from severe bleeding after taking Xarelto, contact The Maher Law Firm to learn more about your legal rights.

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