The makers of Xarelto are currently facing multiple lawsuits after the anticoagulant medication was linked to uncontrollable bleeding and other medical complications that its makers failed to warn doctors and patients of prior to administration. Twenty-one of the cases are being consolidated into Multidistrict Litigation to be heard by District Judge Eldon Fallon of the Eastern District of Louisiana. Additional lawsuits may be added as more plaintiffs surface with cases that are of a similar nature to the twenty-one currently being considered in this action. Johnson and Johnson subsidiary Janssen, which produces the drug originally argued against the MDL but it was decided that it was in the best interests of the plaintiffs to send pretrial proceedings to Judge Fallon rather than hearing each case separately.
The Purpose of Multidistrict Litigation
Whenever many plaintiffs file claims against a single defendant or group of defendants, it is often easier to consolidate the process of litigating these cases so that statements of fact and evidence pertaining to multiple cases can be considered at one time rather than requiring courts and attorneys to expend resources by presenting the same facts and witnesses repeatedly in many cases. Cases which are similar in nature and in which plaintiffs have the same grievances are heard at one time by a judge who will determine which pieces of evidence and statements of fact may be used once the cases return to the courts from which they originated. Multidistrict Litigation is often sent to a court that is impartial and best equipped to serve the needs of all of the plaintiffs.
While Janssen argued against Multidistrict Litigation entirely, the plaintiffs also failed to have their cases considered in their court of choice. The plaintiffs wished to have the MDL heard in Southern Illinois which is currently hearing a similar MDL filed against Pradaxa but Janssen was able to argue that Southern Illinois is currently overloaded with cases at the moment. It was decided to send the case to Fallon ultimately because of his prior experience with MDLs in the past and the court’s neutrality— neither Janssen nor the plaintiffs made a push to have the case heard there.
Claims Made Against Janssen
The lawsuits filed against Janssen are all similar in that they allege the drug Xarelto was marketed as a safer alternative to drugs like Warfarin without the need for regular blood screening and that evidence has since proven these claims to be false. Not only does Xarelto pose a significant risk of causing uncontrollable bleeding, but there is no antidote available to be administered to patients who are suffering from bleeds that occur from the medication’s use. Janssen failed to properly inform patients of the risks associated with Xarelto and is therefore responsible for injuries sustained by plaintiffs who used the medication as prescribed only to suffer from massive bleeding. In most cases the injuries have been severe and include the death of patients who would have otherwise been fine had they been subject to routine blood screens or prescribed an alternative.
The cases being heard at the moment are only the first of what may be thousands of cases in the future and this particular MDL is likely to influence many of the cases that are yet unfiled. It is for this reason that the US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation wanted to consolidate these cases in a centralized location that offered no advantage to either side. Another reason for the choice of location was that twelve of the twenty-one cases pending in the MDL originated from the same district and it is therefore more efficient to undergo pretrial hearings in Eastern Louisiana than to send the case to Illinois or New Jersey.