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Xarelto Cases to be Selected for Bellwether Trials

xarelto pill bottleBeginning shortly after its introduction in 2011, a number of plaintiffs have come forward alleging severe – and sometimes deadly – side effects with the anti-coagulant drug Xarelto. The drug, which was introduced to the market as a more convenient alternative to the traditional warfarin, has come under fire for causing irreversible internal bleeding.

And, with no available antidote, Xarelto manufacturers may experience both an increased exposure to liability and possible multi-million dollar settlements with injured plaintiffs and their family members.

Status of Xarelto multidistrict litigation

Presently, close to 1,700 Xarelto lawsuits have been filed against Bayer and Johnson & Johnson. In order to promote judicial economy and streamline the litigation process for all parties involved, the cases were consolidated in December, 2014 pursuant to the procedures involved in multidistrict litigation, or MDL.

Unlike a class action lawsuit, plaintiffs in an MDL continue to maintain their individual claims and recovery rights against the defendants named in the filing. However, the MDL procedures are often helpful to allow plaintiffs the opportunity to pursue their claims, while helping defendants avoid duplicitous and redundant routine pre-trial hearings and conferences.

A pivotal component of the MDL process is known as a bellwether trial. As the MDL progresses, the judge assigned to the case will generally order parties to select a handful of cases for a representative resolution. In other words, these cases will be tried before a jury, which will render a verdict that will ultimately inform the parties as to the likely result of the rest of the cases. If the jury returns a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, this often signifies to drug companies that it may be time to consider a settlement.

In the ongoing Xarelto MDL, U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon issued an order on September 18, 2015 requiring parties to select a group of cases for four bellwether trials to be tried between February, 2017 and May, 2017. The first two trials will be held in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana on February 6, 2017 and March 13, 2017. The third trial will be held in Mississippi, while the fourth trial is expected to be held in Texas. Dates for the third and fourth Xarelto bellwether trials have not been set at this time.

Allegations of Xarelto bleeding injuries

Xarelto has been heavily marketed as a safe and convenient alternative to the long-standing anti-coagulant drug known as Coumadin (warfarin). Unlike warfarin, Xarelto users are not generally required to undergo routine blood monitoring or adhere to strict dietary requirements. The drug is often introduced to patients with atrial fibrillation in order to reduce the risk of stroke. It is also used to treat deep-vein thrombosis, a condition in which deadly blood clots form in the legs and can potentially travel to the heart.

At its introduction, there was no antidote to reverse the side effects of Xarelto if bleeding became unmanageable or unexpectedly severe. As a result, hundreds of patients have alleged severe and unrelenting bleeding that could have allegedly been avoided but for the use of Xarelto. Moreover, several wrongful death lawsuits have been filed by surviving family members of those who unpredictably succumbed to the effects of internal bleeding allegedly caused by the drug.

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