(Adds details on litigation, comments from companies and
By Nate Raymond
May 3 A federal jury has cleared Bayer AG
and Johnson & Johnson of liability in the
first trial to flow out of thousands of lawsuits blaming
injuries on the blood thinner Xarelto, the drugmakers said on
The verdict by a federal jury in New Orleans came in a
lawsuit filed by Joseph Boudreaux of Louisiana. It was the first
in a series of test trials aimed at helping the plaintiffs and
companies assess similar claims about bleeding risks.
"The jury's verdict affirms both the safety and efficacy of
Xarelto, and that its FDA-approved label contains accurate,
science-based information on the benefits and risks of this
life-saving medicine," Bayer said in a statement.
William Foster, a spokesman for J&J's Janssen
Pharmaceuticals Inc unit, said the verdict reflected the case's
facts and the appropriateness of Xarelto's prescribing
In a joint statement, Andy Birchfield and Brian Barr,
lawyers for Boudreaux, said they were disappointed but would
press on in similar cases.
"As always, we will learn from the experience of this trial,
and continue to press forward with the legal claims of thousands
of innocent victims whose lives have been shattered by Xarelto,"
The lawsuit is one of an estimated 18,000 lawsuits in
federal and state courts related to Xarelto. The verdict came in
the first of four test trials, or bellwethers, scheduled in the
federal litigation. The next trial is May 30.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Xarelto in
2011. The drug is prescribed for people with a common heart
rhythm disorder known as atrial fibrillation and to treat and
reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolisms.
But plaintiffs contend Xarelto was unreasonably dangerous
and that J&J and Bayer, which jointly developed it, failed to
warn patients about a serious risk of uncontrollable,
irreversible bleeding in emergencies.
In Boudreaux's case, the 75-year-old said he was prescribed
Xarelto in 2014 to treat a heart condition and suffered
gastrointestinal bleeding, leading to his hospitalization and
numerous blood transfusions.
Xarelto is among a new class of blood thinners aimed at
replacing the Bristol-Myers Squibb Co's Coumadin, or
warfarin, which has long been on the market.
Others include Boehringer Ingelheim's Pradaxa, which also
became the subject of thousands of lawsuits claiming it caused
bleeding in patients. Boehringer in 2014 reached a $650 million
settlement to resolve those cases.
The case is In Re Xarelto Products Liability Litigation,
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, No.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Jonathan Oatis
and Lisa Shumaker)