Xarelto Makers win First Trial

A jury in the first Xarelto Lawsuit trial found that Johnson & Johnson and Bayer AG are not responsible for a Xarelto user’s internal bleeding. Some 18,000 additional lawsuits have been filed by others who took Xarelto or by family members of Xarelto users who died after taking the blood-thinning drug. Lawsuit petitions claim Xarelto can cause irreversible bleeding and lead to a higher risk of strokes.

The jury in this trial, set in federal court in New Orleans, ruled that J&J and Bayer did not mislead a Louisiana man — Joseph Boudreaux — and his doctors about Xarelto’s health risks. Therefore, the jury found the companies not liable for his injuries and subsequent medical problems.

Related: Xarelto Lawsuit

The May 3, 2017 ruling concluded the first of more than 18,000 patient lawsuits against J&J and Bayer, which jointly developed Xarelto. The companies face separate trials this summer over three other Xarelto users’ complaints. Some users claim Bayer and J&J downplayed Xarelto’s bleeding risks.

Xarelto Top Selling Drug for Bayer

Xarelto, Bayer’s top-selling product, generated 3 billion euros ($3.24 billion) in sales last year and 2.3 billion euros in 2015 for the Leverkusen, Germany-based pharmaceutical company. Xarelto is J&J’s third-largest seller. It generated $2.29 billion in revenue in 2016.

Bayer officials said the jury’s finding affirms the safety of the blood thinner.

Xarelto Marketing Questioned

Xarelto belongs to a new class of drugs aimed at replacing Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.’s Coumadin, first used in the 1950s. Some Xarelto users accuse J&J and Bayer of falsely marketing Xarelto as better than Coumadin because the companies said Xarelto patients didn’t need frequent blood tests.

Misleading Label, say Plaintiffs

Lawyers for the NOLA plaintiff in the first trial and other former Xarelto patients, stress that the drug has no antidote. This can be fatal for some users at high risk for bleeding out if they suffer an injury. By contrast, coumadin’s blood-thinning effects can be arrested. Plaintiffs argue that J&J and Bayer officials should have warned consumers that  they could be tested to gauge their Xarelto bleed-out risk.

“They only accept science they like, and decide to ignore science they don’t like,” said one of Mr. Boudreaux’s lawyers in closing arguments. “They know if they require blood testing, they’re terrified that doctors will just use another drug.”

FDA Approval for Xarelto

J&J and Bayer attorneys argued that the FDA found Xarelto “safe and effective” for patients; the drug makers should be cleared of any liability. The lawyers also argued that millions of users have taken Xarelto without suffering bleeding side effects.

Xarelto defense attorneys also dispute the validity of the safety test designed to gauge Xarelto users’ bleeding risks. They say in court filings that the test didn’t provide useful information to doctors.

The cases are Boudreaux v. Janssen, 14-cv-2720 and In RE Xarelto Products Liability Litigation, 14-MD-2592, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).

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