PHILADELPHIA — Pennsylvania has just granted a motion that will allow multiple Xarelto cases to be consolidated on one docket. How is this good for Xarelto users who have suffered some of the drug’s severe potential side effects? The consolidation of these cases will make it easier and more efficient for the courts to hear these cases, many of which have the same cause of action. It will also make it easier for additional plaintiffs to come forward and join the lawsuits and will eliminate the risk of contradictory verdicts. This decision comes after the creation of an MDL (multidistrict litigation) in Louisiana a few months ago.
The mass tort docket will consolidate around 75 Philadelphia cases that have been filed against Bayer AG and Janssen Pharmaceuticals. The consolidated cases are all similar in that they name the same defendants and allege similar injuries. Although Xarelto has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration since 2011 for use as a blood thinner, there have been many serious health risks associated with it such as strokes, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Most notably, there have been several deaths linked to the drug due to uncontrolled internal bleeding. Unlike many other blood thinners, there is still no antidote for Xarelto’s effects – or at least not one that has been approved by the FDA yet. The lawsuits also allege that the defendants were aware of the serious health risks associated with their blood thinner and failed to warn doctors and patients about the possible fatal effects.
Despite the lack of an anticoagulant to reverse the drug’s effects, Xarelto has been prescribed very frequently, especially for patients who have just had major surgery, such as hip replacement surgery. Xarelto is preferred over other blood thinners such as Coumadin – which does have an antidote in case there is internal bleeding – because Xarelto is easier to use and does not require as many doctor’s visits. The one bit of good news out of all of this is that there may soon be an FDA-approved antidote to Xarelto’s potentially life-threatening effects. A company called Portola Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is in the process of testing a possible antidote, andexanet alfa. However, until it is approved by the FDA, any patients who experience severe internal bleeding while taking Xarelto will unfortunately have to wait for Xarelto to wear off instead of receiving medical attention.
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