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Xarelto Lawsuits Gain Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee

Xarelto box

To date, about 100 Xarelto lawsuits filed in federal court systems have been centralized into a multidistrict litigation (MDL), which is proceeding in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Judge Eldon E. Fallon is presiding over the MDL, which was established in December 2014 by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). As is typical of MDLs, a great deal of pretrial work must be completed before the first trial against the defendants, Bayer and Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals. The latest update from Eastern Louisiana is the issuance of the seventh pretrial order, which establishes a Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee.

Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee

Judge Fallon had received numerous requests for leadership positions by various attorneys for the plaintiffs. On February 9, 2015, his new order appointed 12 attorneys to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, which includes two co-lead counsels.

As part of the committee, these Xarelto attorneys are expected to fulfill various responsibilities throughout the course of pretrial discovery. First, they are responsible for initiating, coordinating, and conducting all aspects of pretrial discovery on behalf of all of the plaintiffs. They must also develop proposed schedules for various discovery actions. The attorneys will need to issue discovery requests, motions, and subpoenas for the benefit of all of the plaintiffs.

Periodically, hearings and meetings will be called for purposes such as coordinating responses to requests or questions, initiating proposals or joint briefs, introducing evidence, and examining witnesses. For the trials themselves, the attorneys on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee will be responsible for coordinating the selection and management of common issues and bellwether trials. They will also prepare trial packages that may be used for any trial in the MDL, including those that are remanded back to their home districts following the conclusion of the bellwether trials.

Xarelto lawsuits allege uncontrolled bleeding

Given the accusations leveled in Xarelto cases, it is expected that the involved parties will question experts such as doctors and employees of the pharmaceutical giant. The counsel for the plaintiffs will attempt to prove that the defendants knew or should have known of the serious bleeding risks of Xarelto (rivaroxaban), but that they withheld important safety information.

All of the plaintiffs in the MDL make similar allegations and statements of fact. The plaintiffs were prescribed the blood-thinning medication, which was first introduced into the stream of commerce in 2011 as a proposed alternative to the gold standard of blood thinners, Coumadin (warfarin). These drugs interfere with the body’s ability to clot blood, which may help reduce the risk of a life-threatening stroke among patients with atrial fibrillation. All drugs of this type carry the risk of abnormal bleeding. However, research has shown that the newer generation of blood thinners, including Xarelto, carries risks that have the potential to be fatal.

When a patient on Coumadin begins to bleed uncontrollably, doctors can administer a therapeutic dose of vitamin K to reverse the effects of the drug and allow the blood to clot. However, this antidote does not work for Xarelto, and in fact, the drug has no available reversal agent whatsoever.

Although the MDL currently contains a relatively small number of plaintiffs, it is expected that many more will step forward in the coming months and years, as the link between Xarelto and life-threatening bleeding becomes more widely known.

  1. U.S. District Court, Pretrial Order #7,
  2., Xarelto,