NEW ORLEANS – A federal jury in New Orleans has cleared Johnson & Johnson and Bayer AG in the second of at least 18,600 suits filed against the pharmaceutical giants stemming from the manufacturing of the blood-thinning drug Xarelto.
On June 12, the jury found in favor of the plaintiffs in connection with a suit filed on behalf of the family of Sharyn Orr, who perished in 2015 of a stroke that her attorneys argued was made worse because her doctor had not been properly informed about bleeding risks associated with the drug.
The case is the second in a series of bellwether trials related to the drug. The drug makers were also cleared of charges in a related case decided earlier this year.
“We offer our deepest sympathy to the Orr family for their loss,” J&J's Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. said in a statement made available to the Louisiana Record. “At Janssen, nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of the patients who use our medicines. The jury’s decision reflects the facts of this case and the appropriateness of Xarelto’s (rivaroxaban) FDA-approved labeling. We will continue to defend against the allegations in this litigation.”
As co-counsels, Andy Birchfield and Brian Barr represent many of the plaintiffs in the ongoing litigation. After the latest verdict, the two indicated they planned to press forward on behalf of their remaining clients.
Xarelto was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2011 and is widely prescribed for people with heart problems such as atrial fibrillation. The drug is also used to treat and reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolisms.
In recent years, plaintiffs have argued that the drug poses several dangers and neither Johnson & Johnson nor Bayer officials have adequately made the public aware of the potential side-effects of uncontrollable and irreversible bleeding linked to its use.
During trial, Joseph Orr and his children insisted that Sharyn Orr suffered her fatal stroke around a year after her doctor prescribed the drug to her for treatment of a heart rhythm disorder. They said that because her doctor had not been properly advised about the drug, he waited at least 12 hours before operating on her because he feared the medication would cause her to bleed.
Johnson & Johnson and Bayer officials maintained warnings about the drug were more than adequate and that it did not trigger her death.