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Federal Judge Extends Filing Deadline for Xarelto Lawsuits

Sep 29, 2016

In response to a flood of new Xarelto bleeding lawsuits, Louisiana federal Judge Eldon Fallon has given victims an additional 90 days to file lawsuits against Janssen for inclusion in the multidistrict litigation.

Judge Fallon oversees the Xarelto multidistrict litigation in the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Janssen Pharmaceuticals faces thousands of lawsuits over the popular blood thinner. The plaintiffs in these cases allege serious adverse events caused by Xarelto. Plaintiffs say they have experienced bleeding episodes that left them with permanent injuries. Families of Xarelto users who died after bleeding episodes have also filed lawsuits.

The first trials in the federal multidistrict litigation cases are scheduled for February 2017. These early trials-bellwether trials involving carefully chosen representative cases-can give the parties a sense of how juries will respond to their evidence and arguments. The outcome of bellwether trials can influence the outcome of the remaining cases. Nearly a thousand cases in a Pennsylvania state-level mass tort program are scheduled for trial in August 2017. All of these cases claim that the Xarelto manufacturers, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a unit of Johnson & Johnson, and Bayer AG knowingly put patients at risk for uncontrollable bleeds, according to Lawyers and Settlements.

Xarelto (rivaroxaban) has only been on the market since 2011, but patients quickly switched to Xarelto from the long-established blood thinning medication warfarin. Xarelto was heavily promoted for its convenience. Patients do not need routine blood monitoring or a restricted diet. But doctors and patients have discovered a significant downside to Xarelto's convenience. Unlike warfarin, Xarelto has no antidote that will restore the blood's clotting ability. In the event of an internal bleeding episode, an injury, or the need for emergency surgery, there is no consistent way to make a patient's blood begin to clot again. Xarelto users have suffered internal bleeding, strokes, hemorrhages, and other adverse bleeding events.

The lawsuits allege that Janssen chose not to warn doctors or the public about Xarelto's risks. Instead, the company has heavily promoted Xarelto's convenience compared to warfarin. Television ads feature celebrity Xarelto users like golf legend Arnold Palmer and NBA All-Star Chris Bosh, who happily promote Xarelto's convenience but do not mention the bleeding risks. Patients who have filed Xarelto lawsuits say Janssen deliberately used misleading marketing and advertising to sell the drug.

Warfarin has been the standard blood-thinning drug for 60 years. But people taking warfarin must undergo regular blood tests to ensure that they have the proper amount of the drug in the bloodstream. With too little of the drug, the user is at risk for blood clots. With too much, the person is in danger of uncontrolled bleeding. Patients must also follow a careful diet to avoid interactions that will diminish warfarin's effectiveness. Doctors and patients have long sought a more convenient blood thinner, and Xarelto seemed to be it. But the lack of an antidote leaves patients at risk for uncontrollable bleeding.

Judge Fallon said his court clerk's office has been flooded with recently filed Xarelto lawsuits, which is why he extended the filing deadline. The next 90 days could be pivotal for the Xarelto litigation, with a big influx of new cases filed against Janssen.

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