Johnson & Johnson, Bayer prevail in first of 18,000 Xarelto trials

By Glenn Minnis | May 17, 2017

NEW ORLEANS — After emerging victorious in the first of more than 18,000 suits filed against them, Xarelto maker Johnson & Johnson and Bayer Pharmaceuticals are vowing to remain as vigilant as ever in defending their reputations.

“In the first federal trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of our company, and we will continue to defend against the claims raised in this litigation at the next trial that is set to begin on May 30,” Johnson & Johnson officials said in a statement to the Louisiana Record.

In the first of four bellwether trials slated for multidistrict litigation, U.S. District Court Judge Eldon E. Fallon of the Eastern District of Louisiana ruled in favor of the defendants in a federal proceeding brought by 75-year-old Joseph Boudreaux.

The plaintiff claimed he suffered gastrointestinal bleeding just weeks after being prescribed the blood-thinning drug in 2014 in hopes of treating a heart condition.

Attorneys for Boudreaux argued that their client’s physician was never warned about potential side effects associated with the drug, which could include uncontrollable bleeding.

In ruling for the defense, a jury found that the pharmaceutical manufacturers had fulfilled their “intermediary doctrine” obligations by providing sufficient notice of the drug’s risks to those in the industry.

“The allegations made in Xarelto lawsuits contradict years of data on the medicine and the FDA’s determination, and repeated confirmation, of its safety and efficacy,” Johnson & Johnson officials said.

Meanwhile, Bayer execs championed the jury’s verdict as an affirmation of the drug’s safety and effectiveness and vowed to continue to make the public aware of its benefits.

“With more than five years on the U.S. market and 28 million patients prescribed worldwide in over 130 countries, real-world experience continues to confirm the favorable benefit-risk profile of Xarelto for patients who have a high risk of life-threatening blood clots that may cause strokes and other serious medical complications,” Johnson & Johnson said in a statement.

The Boudreaux verdict will have no bearing on any of the other cases, which are slated to be judged on their own merits. In all, the federal court system will hear at least 16,000 cases and another 1,400 are destined for Philadelphia’s mass tort program in the Court of Common Pleas.

The second bellwether trial is scheduled to start in New Orleans on May 30. The other multidistrict trials are slated for Southern District of Mississippi in early August and Northern District of Texas in January 2018.

The Food & Drug Administration approved Xarelto in 2011, and the two companies have netted more than $5.5 billion in profit since then.

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Bayer Pharmaceuticals Johnson & Johnson U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana

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