Courts Consolidate Xarelto Bleeding Lawsuits

Big Pharma started 2015 with the news that two U.S. courts consolidated groups of Xarelto lawsuits that claim the blood thinner caused severe bleeding, some of which caused drug recipients to die.

An oral blood thinner developed and sold by Bayer and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Xarelto (rivaroxaban), hit the U.S. market in July 2011 and quickly grew into a popular alternative to an older medication, warfarin. The drug’s makers marketed the drug as superior to warfarin.

Unlike warfarin, Xarelto has no dietary restrictions or blood tests but causes more gastrointestinal bleeds. This excessive bleeding led to serious complications, and patients and families soon turned to litigation as compensation for damages.

The first consolidation order came in December 2014 when the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict District Litigation (JPML) transferred about two dozen cases in Louisiana federal court. The defendants, drug giants Bayer and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit, claim there were not enough similarities to go ahead with the order, but the panel disagreed.

Acne Drug Accutane No Longer Sold

Accutane won’t be sold any more, drug giant Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. has announced.

Generic versions of the acne drug, called isotretinoin, are still available from several manufacturers. But Roche, which has sold the drug to 13 million patients since 1982, will not be one of them.

The decision was made for “business reasons,” Roche announced in a news release. Those reasons include declining sales: Accutane sales now make up less than 5% of the isotretinoin market.

Another big reason: Accutane personal injury lawsuits, which Roche is aggressively defending.

Accutane and other isotretinoin products are effective treatments for serious acne. But the drug can have extremely serious side effects: mental health problems — including depression, psychosis, and suicide — and, when taken by pregnant women, miscarriage or birth defects.

Testing a Legal Ideal In Vioxx Settlement

If you listen to brainy law professors who have been studying big injury cases, you will learn that lawyers no longer owe their clients a duty of loyalty. They say this approvingly, even enthusiastically.

The idea that lawyers must represent one client at a time, give independent advice, follow instructions and, in general, act with fierce and single-minded loyalty is, these professors say, a lovely idea but an outmoded one. It is something out of the Age of Chivalry, or at least the 20th century.

“Speaking of individualized notions of lawyer loyalty is sort of like the mindset of the French military in 1940,” said Richard A. Nagareda, a law professor at Vanderbilt and the author of a recent book called “Mass Torts in a World of Settlement.”

Professor Nagareda was speaking at a forum at the American Enterprise Institute this month, and he was explaining why a proposed $4.85 billion settlement of lawsuits concerning the painkiller Vioxx represents progress, even though the deal puts extraordinary pressure on the lawyer-client relationship.

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