Blood thinner medications, also called anticoagulants, prevent blood clots from forming, thus helping to prevent the clogs that can cause strokes, heart attack, and blockages. The traditional pain medication aspirin is also an anticoagulant. The patient taking a blood thinner needs to be carefully monitored, because the inhibition of clotting brings risks of bleeding, including internal bleeding.
In December, a Pennsylvania state court jury ordered pharmaceutical giants Bayer AG and Johnson & Johnson to pay $27.8 million to an Indiana couple over the drugmakers’ failure to warn of internal bleeding risks from their blood thinner Xarelto, according to Reuters. This was the first trial loss in Xarelto litigation; the two manufacturers had won two other cases in federal court. Xarelto is prescribed for atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat, and to reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolisms.
The wife was taking Xarelto to prevent strokes as a result of atrial fibrillation, and after approximately one year was hospitalized with severe gastrointestinal bleeding, which she attributed to taking Xarelto. The couple’s lawyer said in a statement, “Xarelto is the worst in class of the new blood thinners. The serious health complications suffered by thousands of patients could have been avoided if physicians were properly instructed about the risks.”
The verdict will likely unleash countless future Xarelto lawsuits against Bayer and J&J. Already, some lenders are offering “Xarelto settlement loans” that advance cash to plaintiffs in anticipation of the settlements to be awarded to them at the successful conclusion of their cases.
The Xarelto verdict is the latest in a series of costly product liability rulings against J&J, notably in lawsuits over the alleged association of its baby powder containing talc with ovarian cancer, its drug Risperdal, and its medical devices. According to Forbes, “J&J’s litigation expenses have been fairly high over the past few years,” topping out at $1.25 billion in 2014. Johnson & Johnson doesn’t have much to worry about, however: J&J d is a hugely profitable, $70-billion company, and settling a lawsuit for millions, hundreds of millions, or even a billion dollars is just a cost of doing business.
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