A Philadelphia jury has awarded $28 million in damages to a 75-year-old woman who claimed to have suffered gastrointestinal bleeding after taking Xarelto.
By Laurence Banville
After winning three Xarelto bellwether trials in a row, Johnson & Johnson and Bayer were handed their first defeat in a Pennsylvania State Court, when a Philly jury on December 5, 2017 ordered the two companies to pay nearly $28 million in compensation to a 75-year-old woman who experienced severe gastrointestinal bleeding after taking the best-selling blood thinner for over a year. The plaintiff has been awarded $1.8 million in compensatory damages and $26 million in punitive damages, Bloomberg Technology reports.
Xarelto Litigation Tops 20,000 LawsuitsToday, more than 20,000 injured patients and surviving families have filed lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson and Bayer, accusing the manufacturers of providing the public with inadequate warnings. Many of these lawsuits have been consolidated in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, a federal court in New Orleans. Three of these federally-filed lawsuits have gone to trial, in Louisiana and Mississippi.
All three prior trials ended in defense verdicts. But around 1,400 Xarelto claims are currently pending in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, according to Reuters, and the first of these State Court lawsuits to be heard in front of a jury just ended in a $28 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson and Bayer.
Month-Long Trial Ends In Plaintiff VerdictThe Philadelphia jury heard arguments for over a month before deciding that the companies' warning labels had presented insufficient information on the Xarelto's bleeding risks. Attorneys for the plaintiff, a 75-year-old who developed gastrointestinal bleeding in 2014, said they and their client were "grateful" for the jury's decision. In an email to FiercePharma, the lawyer wrote, "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 were properly instructed about the risks."
Johnson & Johnson developed Xarelto in collaboration with Bayer, hoping to introduce a competitor to warfarin, a medication that has been used to battle blood clots for over 6 decades. Xarelto was approved in 2011 to widespread claim and the drug quickly became a blockbuster. It wasn't long, however, before reports of severe internal bleeding began to surface. And the problem was two-fold, since the drug was released without an effective antidote. The anticoagulant effects of warfarin, on the other hand, can easily be reversed in the event of emergency.
Companies Will Appeal $28 Million AwardAttorneys for Johnson & Johnson and Bayer plan to appeal the latest plaintiff win, FiercePharma says. A spokesperson for Bayer told reporters, "Bayer stands behind the safety and efficacy of Xarelto and believes there is no basis in fact or law for the verdict, including the punitive award, and plans to appeal."
Xarelto is Bayer's best-selling product, adding $3.2 billion in sales to the company's ledger in 2016 alone. It's a main revenue source for Johnson & Johnson, too. Last year, the company's Janssen Pharmaceutical outfit reported around $2.2 billion in sales from Xarelto.