The first bellwether trial in the massive multidistrict litigation (MDL) involving bleeding risks with the blood thinner Xarelto was scheduled to begin this month in the Eastern District of Louisiana, but the National Basketball Association (NBA) All Star game occurring in New Orleans at the same time pushed U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon to delay trial until March.
The Xarelto MDL under Judge Fallon has swelled to nearly 14,000 lawsuits since the it was first consolidated in December 2014. Last summer, Judge Fallon had scheduled the first cases to be tried, with the first to be tried in February. But the NBA All Star game falling mid month – Feb. 17-19 – raised concerns regarding the added traffic from professional basketball players, support staff, fans and the media. All parties agreed that pushing the first trial back to March was in the best interest of all.
Xarelto was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2011, and is used to prevent strokes in patients with the heart condition atrial fibrillation, to treat or prevent deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, and to prevent blood clots in patients who have recently undergone hip or knee replacement surgery.
The blood thinner has been linked to major bleeding events including gastrointestinal bleeds and brain bleeds, some of which have been fatal. The lawsuits allege Xarelto makers Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Bayer did not adequately test the drug before marketing it to flesh out serious side effects, failed to warn the public of serious bleeding risks, and marketed the drug before there was an antidote available to reverse the bleeding effects of the drug.
The first bellwether is scheduled for March 13, and involves the case of Joseph Boudreaux, who claims he started taking Xarelto in January 2014 to treat atrial fibrillation. Less than a month later, he was hospitalized for gastrointestinal bleeding and required multiple blood transfusions.