Miami Beach was the place to be for mass tort lawyers last week, with two drug and medical device conferences as well as a critical hearing before the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (also known as the “JPML”). The Judicial Panel, a group of federal judges that meets every two months to consider requests to establish MDLs for pharmaceutical, medical device, environmental, consumer fraud, securities and other mass tort cases, held a hearing on Thursday, January 26, 2017, at the federal courthouse in Miami which included discussion on a potential Eliquis MDL.
One of the most significant arguments heard by the JPML Panel last week was for the establishment of a new MDL No. 2754 for product liability claims stemming from Eliquis. Eliquis is a popular blood thinner drug prescribed to patients who suffer from atrial fibrillation, deep vein thrombosis, or pulmonary emboli. This drug, also known as apixaban, is part of the same class of newer anti-coagulants, which includes Pradaxa and Xarelto. Eliquis is manufactured and sold by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer.
The manufacturers of Pradaxa and Xarelto have been mired in thousands of lawsuits filed by patients who suffered serious personal injuries or died as a result of taking these drugs. The individual lawsuits focus on the manufacturers’ failure to properly test the medications prior to marketing, irregularities in the conduct of the clinical trials that were completed, failure to properly report adverse events, and inadequate warnings. The lack of a reversal agent and questionable data demonstrating effectiveness of Pradaxa and Xarelto over Coumadin (which has an antidote) are also key contentions in the liability cases against the manufacturers. Similar allegations are now being made as well against the manufacturers of Eliquis.
Eliquis Still on the Market
Eliquis, like Pradaxa and Xarelto, remains on the market, even in the face of the troubling safety issues. Many of the Pradaxa cases were settled a few years ago, while the Xarelto manufacturers will face the first jury trials in the coordinated litigation in 2017. Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer have urged the JPML Panel to establish an Eliquis MDL for the Eliquis cases in the federal court for the Southern District of New York. It is anticipated that hundreds of additional Eliquis lawsuits will be filed in the coming months if an Eliquis MDL is granted.
The dedicated Mass Tort Unit of Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley represents plaintiffs who have been injured by defective drugs and medical devices. The firm filed one of the first lawsuits in the national Pradaxa litigation and has played an active role in litigating Pradaxa and Xarelto blood thinner lawsuits on behalf of a number of injured patients.