On December 5, 2017, a Philadelphia pharmaceutical liability jury returned its verdict in the amount of $27.8 million in favor of a husband and wife regarding the wife’s internal bleeding allegedly caused by her use of the prescription blood-thinning medication Xarelto (rivaroxaban). The jury found that the drug manufacturers, Bayer AG and Johnson & Johnson, had failed to warn the woman regarding the risk of internal bleeding associated with Xarelto. The jury’s verdict included $1.8 million in compensatory damages and $26 million in punitive damages.
The jury’s large verdict in favor of the plaintiffs, including the large punitive damages award, may have caught the defendant drug manufacturers off-guard: three prior federal lawsuits involving Xarelto had resulted in defense verdicts. The Philadelphia Xarelto lawsuit was tried in state court, which was the first to be tried of about 1,400 Xarelto lawsuits pending in state court in Philadelphia. Additionally, there are more than 18,500 pending Xarelto cases filed in federal court, which have been consolidated in multidistrict litigation in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The defendants have already indicated their intention to appeal the Philadelphia jury’s Xarelto verdict.
The plaintiff had been prescribed Xarelto to prevent her from having a stroke as a result of her atrial fibrillation (“AFib”). The plaintiff had taken Xarelto for about one year before she was hospitalized in June 2014 with severe gastrointestinal bleeding that she alleged was due to Xarelto. Fortunately, the woman recovered from her intestinal bleeding.
The plaintiffs’ lawyer stated after the Philadelphia jury returned its verdict, “Xarelto is the worst in class of the new blood thinners. The serious health complications suffered by thousands of patients could have been avoided if physicians had been properly instructed about the risks.”
Xarelto was approved by the FDA in 2011. Xarelto is a prescription medicine used to reduce the risk of stroke and blood clots in people with atrial fibrillation, not caused by a heart valve problem. Xarelto is also used to treat deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE), and to reduce the risk of blood clots happening again in people who continue to be at risk for DVT or PE after receiving treatment for blood clots for at least 6 months. Xarelto is also used to reduce the risk of forming a blood clot in the legs and lungs of people who have just had knee or hip replacement surgery.
In 2016, Bayer AG reported $3.41 billion in revenues from Xarelto (its best-selling drug), and Johnson & Johnson reported revenues from Xarelto in the amount of $2.2 billion in 2016. Bayer AG and Johnson & Johnson jointly developed Xarelto.
On October 11, 2016, the FDA issued a statement that concluded: “The FDA concludes that Xarelto is a safe and effective alternative to warfarin in patients with atrial fibrillation,” but also stated in a report dated September 12, 2016, “The only notable safety risk of rivaroxaban was bleeding … Fatal bleeding was also more frequent with warfarin. However, major GI bleeding was more frequent with rivaroxaban than with warfarin.”
If you or a loved one suffered injuries (or worse) as a result of Xarelto or another drug in the United States, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a pharmaceutical claim lawyer in your state who may investigate your drug claim for you and represent you in a claim against a pharmaceutical company, if appropriate.
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