It has been more than two years since the first Xarelto lawsuit was filed in January of 2014 and recently, the plaintiffs involved in MDL 2592 learned that they will still need to wait another six months before the first bellwether trials begin. The first two trials will take place on February 6th, 2017 and March 13th, 2017 in the Eastern District of Louisiana.
In December of 2014, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated all federally-filed Xarelto lawsuits into MDL 2592. The panel approved this decision based on three factors:
- all cases involved in the MDL contains at least one or more common questions of fact
- that the transfer was convenient for all parties involved
- the transfer promoted judicial efficiency, economy, and fairness.
Today, there are now nearly 6,000 lawsuits regarding Xarelto filed under the MDL. In each case, a plaintiff is alleging that the blood thinner Xarelto either caused serious harm or the death of the patient who was prescribed the drug. In the majority of these cases, the plaintiff is the patient who was prescribed the drug, however, several hundred of the lawsuits are wrongful death lawsuits filed by the family members of someone who died while on Xarelto.
Plaintiffs have claimed that the drug caused a wide variety of medical conditions including brain hemorrhage, pulmonary embolism, abdominal bleeding, stroke, spinal bleeding, rectal bleeding, and liver dysfunction.
What Are Bellwether Trials?
In a very basic sense, a bellwether trial is a test case which allows the parties involved to present their arguments with the idea that it will help move the thousands of other cases forward toward a resolution. The outcome of these trials frequently provides the information the two parties need to decide if they will continue to go to trial or if they will agree to a settlement.
Why Hasn’t The FDA Recalled The Drug?
Many have wondered why the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t issued a recall of the drug with so many people filing lawsuits against the manufacturers, Bayer AG and Janssen Pharmaceuticals. Unfortunately, that is a question that only the administration can answer. They have, however, taken steps to warn the public of the risks associated with taking Xarelto. To date, the FDA has issued:
- August 2013: A black box warning informing the medical community and public that patients who are on Xarelto and discontinue the drug too quickly may be at risk for forming blood clots, deep vein thrombosis, and spinal hematoma.
- January 2014: A warning was issued which reported that there was a risk of bleeding if a patient was injured while taking Xarelto and that the appropriate medical treatment was a blood transfusion, as there is no known antidote for the drug.
- March 2014: The FDA announced that anyone undergoing a spinal procedure should wait, if possible until the drug was completely out of their system due to the risk of spinal hemorrhage.
- December 2014: An adverse reaction report was issued which indicated that the drug could cause thrombocytopenia.
In addition to these warnings, the FDA has also reported that Xarelto should not be taken with the following drugs:
- St. John’s wart
Why Are Doctors Still Prescribing The Drug?
Xarelto, which has only been available in the United States since 2011, instantly became a favored blood thinner because of one simple fact. It was the first blood thinner which provided a uniform dosage for all patients, regardless of their height, weight, level of physical activity, and diet. Other blood thinners are not able to provide that and so the patient is required to make frequent testing appointments to ensure that they are on the correct dosage. It was this factor which made Xarelto the most prescribed blood thinner in the country not long after its release and is likely why it is still being prescribed today.