January 7, 2015 — The number of lawsuits involving Bayer’s blood-thinning drug Xarelto has skyrocketed in the last three weeks, quadrupling to 80 cases centralized in a federal Multi-District Litigation (MDL).
The MDL (No. 2592) was established on December 15 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. At the time, 21 lawsuits in 10 different district courts were transferred into the litigation.
The judge overseeing the litigation, Judge Eldon E. Fallon, has scheduled the first status conference for January 29. Lawyers for plaintiffs and defendants will meet to discuss the organizational structure of the discovery process and coordinate pretrial proceedings.
Eventually, it is possible that certain cases will be selected for “bellwether” trials to go before a jury. The outcome of each trial can help lawyers negotiate a settlement or other resolution in similar cases, while avoiding the time and expense of dozens of trials.
Plaintiffs accuse Bayer of downplaying Xarelto’s risks, including severe and fatal bleeding that may become uncontrollable due to a lack of an effective reversal agent. Bayer is also accused of improperly marketing Xarelto as better than warfarin, a blood-thinner that can be reversed with a dose of Vitamin K.
Although Bayer opposed centralization of Xarelto lawsuits in an MDL, the litigation is remarkably similar to one involving Boehringer Ingelheim’s blood-thinning drug Pradaxa (dabigatran). The Pradaxa MDL was created in August 2012 and grew rapidly, with about 4,000 lawsuits filed over the next two years. In May 2014, the manufacturer of Pradaxa agreed to settle the litigation for $650 million.