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A federal judge in Louisiana has selected two lawsuits to serve as the first test trials amid more than 7,200 cases challenging the safety of Bayer AG and Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen’s blockbuster blood thinner Xarelto.
The first trial, slated to start in February, involves claims Xarelto caused a Louisiana man to develop gastrointestinal bleeding, according to an order Friday from U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon in the Eastern District of Louisiana.
The second trial will involve Joseph Orr, the husband of a woman who used Xarelto for about a month before she died from bleeding in the brain (cerebral hemorrhage). The cases will go to trial in Louisiana.
Uncontrolled bleeding caused by Xarelto has resulted in hundreds of people filing lawsuits against the company for failing to warn about the dangers associated with Xarelto.
According to the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL), as of August 15, 2016, there were 7,254 lawsuits consolidated for pretrial proceedings in MDL 2592. Those lawsuits allege patients suffered uncontrolled bleeding events leading to serious injury as a result of using Xarelto. Inclusion in the MDL is not a comment on the lawsuits’ merits; rather it is an acknowledgment that the suits share similar issues.
Those issues involve uncontrolled bleeding linked to use of Xarelto. Because Xarelto is a blood thinner, uncontrolled bleeding is a risk for patients. However, patients allege they were not adequately warned about that risk, nor were they told that there was no antidote for Xarelto. Patients taking warfarin, also a blood thinner, have an antidote to counter act its effects. Warfarin can be counteracted by taking vitamin K. Xarelto on the other hand has no antidote and patients suffering from uncontrolled bleeding must wait for the drug to leave their system.
That puts patients at risk of serious side effects including possible death, depending on the nature of the bleeding. And patients reportedly don’t have to use the drug for long to suffer a side effect.