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On December 5, 2017, an Indiana couple won their Xarelto lawsuit in Philadelphia. The jury ordered that the drug manufacturers, Bayer AG and Johnson & Johnson (J&J), pay $27.8 million for failing to warn about the blood-thinner’s serious side effects.

Of that award, $1.8 million was designated for compensatory damages and $26 million in punitive damages. This is the first loss for the manufacturers in the Xarelto litigation. The first three federal bellwether trials resulted in defense verdicts.

Indiana Couple Win First Xarelto Trial in Philadelphia Mass Tort

The couple in the Pennsylvania state court case filed their Xarelto lawsuit in 2015, claiming that the wife was first prescribed Xarelto in 2013 to prevent a stroke and took it for about a year. Then in June 2014, she developed gastrointestinal bleeding and had to be hospitalized. She blamed Xarelto for her injuries and claimed that the manufacturers didn’t do enough to warn of the drug’s potential dangers.

This was one of about 1,400 cases pending in the Pennsylvania state court mass tort litigation in Philadelphia, and the first to go to trial in that litigation. The trial was briefly delayed because of allegations that sales representatives from Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of J&J, met with the plaintiffs’ doctor. The meeting allegedly resulted in a change in the doctor’s testimony.

During the trial, a former FDA commissioner testified that the Xarelto label did not have adequate warnings about its side effects. Bayer and J&J have stated that they plan to appeal the verdict.

Federal Trials Have Been Favoring Defendants

In August 2017, in the third case to go to trial in the Xarelto Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) pending in federal court a Jackson, Mississippi jury determined that the manufacturers of Xarelto were not liable. The plaintiff in that case claimed she suffered serious gastrointestinal bleeding just a month after she started taking Xarelto to prevent blood clots.

Like thousands of other plaintiffs in the Xarelto litigation, she claimed that the drug manufacturers failed to adequately warn about Xarelto’s bleeding risks. If they had, she claims that she could have avoided her injuries. Her case was one of over 19,000 that are currently pending in the Xarelto MDL, which is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Xarelto Lacks Antidote for Bleeding

Xarelto and other newer-generation anticoagulant drugs have no readily available antidote to stop excessive bleeding once it starts. Whereas patients taking warfarin, the leading blood-thinner for years, can be treated with vitamin K injections, which encourage the blood to begin clotting again, patients taking Xarelto have no such recourse. Patients simply have to wait for Xarelto to flush out of their system. This makes any bleeding events significantly more dangerous and potentially deadly.

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