Johnson & Johnson and Bayer were recently ordered by a Philadelphia court to pay $27.8 million in damages to an Indiana couple. The pharmaceutical companies failed to sufficiently warn patients of the risk of internal bleeding associated with the drug, Xarelto. This judgment marks the first lawsuit loss over Xarelto. Johnson & Johnson and Bayer have been cleared of liability in the previous three federal trails that involved the drug.
The win comes at price, however, after a patient Lynn Hartman suffered severe damages from taking Xarelto. “Hartman was prescribed Xarelto to prevent strokes as a result of atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat. She took the drug for approximately one year and in June 2014 was hospitalized with severe
gastrointestinal bleeding, which she blamed on Xarelto. She has since recovered.”
Bayer and Johnson & Johnson said they were going to appeal the verdict. Bayer commented on the judgment and said “it believed there was no basis for the verdict, including the punitive damages award” Johnson & Johnson adds “that it contradicted years of scientific data and repeated confirmations of Xarelto’s safety by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.”
It will be interesting to see how these pharma giants handle the pile up of lawsuits related to Xatelto in the coming years. In fact, this case was the first of 1,400 cases in the Philadelphia court system that involved Xarelto. If that number isn’t staggering enough, there are over 18,500 Xarelto cases that are currently pending in the federal courts.
According to Hartman’s attorney, “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.” Patients that take Xarelto and other related drugs depend on the pharmaceutical companies to be honest with them about their products. Many people who take certain medications would not choose to do so if the side effects were far worse than they were led to believe. There may be many second thoughts now when patients decide if they want to start Xarelto.