Honorable Judge Eldon E. Fallon recently chose four experts as witnesses during the upcoming Xarelto trial that has been scheduled for April 24, 2017. Defendants Bayer and Janssen tried to exclude them from providing testimony on behalf of the almost 17,000 plaintiffs during the IN RE: Xarelto (Rivaroxaban) Products Liability Litigation, but the judge eventually admitted them during next week’s bellwether trial.
Xarelto (rivaroxaban) is an allegedly dangerous blood thinner that caused thousands of patients to suffer from grievous injuries. The pharmaceutical companies widely advertised it as a safe and effective alternative to Warfarin with an aggressive marketing campaign that involved several commercials played by celebrities such as Kevin Nealon and Brian Vickers. However, according to the victims and their attorneys, the anticoagulant’s “one-size-fits-all” dosage was indeed hazardous to more than a handful patients, and coupled with the absence of a proper antidote to reverse its effects, led to several cases of uncontrollable bleeding, gastrointestinal hemorrhages and unavoidable deaths.
The key experts that will testify during the upcoming Xarelto litigation are:
Dr. Suzanne Parisian. She will provide her expertise in the complexities of the Food and Drug Administration regulations. She worked as the FDA’s Chief Medical Officer, and will help the jury fully understand the regulatory agency’s requirements on drug labeling.
Dr. Laura Plunkett. She is a toxicologist and pharmacologist with extensive experience consulting on regulatory matters and providing expert witnesses. She will testify about the medication’s pharmacology and its effects compared to similar drugs.
Dr. David Kessler. He is a former Commissioner of the FDA who already testified before Congress many times in the past. He is an expert in both medicine and law and served on the boards of several pharmaceutical companies as a knowledgeable advisor. He will provide a unique opinion on the conduct of Xarelto’s manufacturers.
Dr. Nathaniel Winstead. He is a gastroenterologist and hepatologist with substantial experience in anticoagulants. He was the director of a large gastroenterology center at Ochsner and worked as a clinical investigator during many trials for pharmaceutical companies such as the Defendant Janssen. He is witnessing that the alleged cause of the plaintiff’s GI bleed during the bellwether trial was, indeed, Xarelto.
The court admitted that the four experts could provide an opinion on Xarelto bleeding risks associated with the lack of proper monitoring. Despite its potential risks, in fact, the anticoagulant was often promoted as a drug that did not require any blood test to check its safety or effectiveness. Plaintiffs’ lawyer argued this as one of the principal reasons why many patients suffered an otherwise undetectable internal bleeding. Defendants got some of their defendants admitted, including Dr. D. J. Michael Gaziano, a Boston cardiologist with a vast expertise in anticoagulant therapies. Others such as Dr. James A. Reiffel were excluded, instead. Dr. Reiffel planned to testify that several patients suffered the grievous consequences of an abrupt stop of their treatment after being scared by attorney advertising.