Magana Cathcart & McCarthy

Juries Return Verdicts in First Two Bellwether Trials for Xarelto Victims

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The Xarelto litigation is now well underway, with two of four bellwether trials so far concluded. On May 3, a Louisiana federal jury returned a verdict in favor of the defense in the case titled Boudreaux vs Bayer et al. The second bellwether also resulted in a loss for the plaintiff when, on June 12, the jury returned a verdict for the defense in the case titled Joseph Orr Jr. v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., et al. Despite these losses for plaintiffs, those who suffered medical emergencies after using Xarelto need not be discouraged by these results.

First two bellwether results not determinative of all

Experts in dangerous drug and mass tort litigation speculate that, despite these initial losses for plaintiffs, the results are not necessarily determinative of the outcomes of future cases. While the medical histories of the plaintiffs in the first two cases were not similar, testimony from the doctors who prescribed them with the dangerous blood-thinning drug, was. This fact is believed to have affected the outcome.

The plaintiff in the first bellwether trial was Joseph Boudreaux, Jr., who took Xarelto to reduce the risk of stroke due to Atrial Fibrillation (AF). As a result of the drug, he suffered severe gastrointestinal bleeding that required hospitalization and a series of blood transfusions. The next trial, which began in May in the same Louisiana court, was brought by Joseph Orr, Jr. on behalf of Sharyn Orr, who died of a hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding on the brain) ten days after starting on Xarelto, again to reduce the risk of blood clots associated with AF. Although both cases involved the use of Xarelto to reduce the risk of the formation of dangerous blood clots related to patients with Atrial Fibrillation, the two cases differ in that the Boudreaux case dealt with Afib + a GI (gastrointestinal) bleed, while the Orr case dealt with Afib + a brain bleed.

What makes the two claims similar is that prescribing physicians in both Boudreaux’s case and in Orr’s case testified that they had served as “learned intermediaries,” absolving the makers of Xarelto of liability for the dangers of uncontrolled bleeding imposed by the drug. When doctors claim to have been learned intermediaries, they are saying that they were aware of all risks that were associated with the drug, but still believed the potential benefits outweighed the risks. The doctors must also show that, if there were additional risks they didn’t know at the time of prescribing the drugs, learning of those particular risks wouldn’t have changed their decision.

With more bellwether trials still to go, and over 16,000 complaints against Xarelto so far filed, it seems unlikely that the doctors in these trials will all claim full responsibility for knowingly imposing the monumental risks of Xarelto on their patients in this way. The next bellwether trial is scheduled to begin in August of 2017. The drug makers have not yet settled any of the claims based on injuries or deaths caused by Xarelto. Drugmaker defendants in mass tort claims such as this one often delay in making settlement offers until multiple bellwether trials have concluded, even if the bellwethers seem to be resolving in their favor.

Lawsuits allege Xarelto dangers were well-known and not worth the risk

One issue all Xarelto lawsuits have in common is that patients were prescribed the drug without being given adequate warnings about the medication’s likelihood to bring about uncontrollable bleeding. Affected patients argue that this propensity to cause bleeding, combined with the fact that there is no reversal agent to stop the bleeding, make Xarelto dangerously unsafe. In contrast, another blood-thinning drug, warfarin, has been around for more than 50 years, and any bleeding caused by warfarin can be quickly reversed. But warfarin is available as a generic that only costs a few dollars, and drug makers cannot make the billions off of warfarin like they can by pushing new drugs like Xarelto instead. Plaintiffs in the Xarelto lawsuits argue that the drug makers and promoters knew of the drug’s defects and actively took steps to hide those facts from doctors and patients.

If you experienced an adverse effect from taking Xarelto or another medication, contact the dangerous drug attorneys at Magaña, Cathcart & McCarthy at 310-553-6630 for a free consultation regarding potential claims of compensation for your harm.

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