The second Xarelto bellwether trial ended with a victory for the defendants Johnson & Johnson and Bayer AG. The federal jury’s verdict confirmed the decision of the first trial, clearing the manufacturers of any liability for the serious injuries suffered by plaintiffs who took the blood thinner.

A total of over 18,000 Xarelto lawsuits has been filed so far by patients who were allegedly injured shortly after taking the popular anticoagulant. Since the medication’s effect could not be reversed as no antidote was ever made available to the public, even the smallest wound could quickly escalate to a major, uncontrolled bleeding. Many attorneys across the country alleged that patients and doctors never received adequate warning about the life-threatening dangers associated with rivaroxaban, the Novel Oral Anticoagulant (NOAC) that in a few years became the top-selling blood thinner in the U.S. market. Many lawyers are trying to blame the pharmaceutical companies for negligence, conspiracy and misleading advertisement, but so far Bayer and J&J have been able to push back the accusations.

The second of the four Xarelto bellwether trials scheduled so far brought to court the case of Sharyn Orr, a woman who died in April 2015. Her husband and children filed a lawsuit on her behalf, claiming the fatal stroke that killed Orr was a consequence of the side effects of rivaroxaban.The woman took the medication to treat her atrial fibrillation, but when she suffered a stroke, the surgeon had to wait 12 hours before operating her to prevent a risky internal hemorrhage. Plaintiff’s lawyers alleged that the doctors had no proper information available to take this delicate decision. However, the jury concluded that the warning labels on the Xarelto packaging were not inadequate. The defense has now won the first two bellwether trials.

The defense has now won the first two bellwether trials, but more than 40 have been scheduled in the upcoming years in the Xarelto Products Liability Litigation MDL No. 2592. The next case is scheduled for August 2017, in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, and will be overseen by Judge E. Fallon.

Article by Dr. Claudio Butticè, Pharm.D.