A federal panel is expected to decide this week whether or not product liability cases filed against the maker of the anticoagulant drug, Pradaxa, will be consolidated into one court.
Pradaxa, made by Boehringer Ingelheim, is a popular blood-thinner alternative to Coumadin (warfarin). Also known as dabigatran, Pradaxa is part of a new generation of oral anticoagulants used to prevent stroke, atrial fibrillation, heart attack, and to prevent thromboembolism after the implantation of a heart valve.
That’s because Pradaxa can lead to uncontrollable bleeding and death in those who suffer sudden trauma, a fall, or a car accident. There is no way to stop the bleeding in users of Pradaxa unlike Coumadin users who can coagulate their blood by ingesting vitamin K.
Lawyers filed a motion last May to move all cases to a central federal court in the Southern District of Illinois. On Thursday, July 26, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) will gather to listen to oral arguments regarding consolidating Pradaxa claims before one federal judge who will oversee pre-trial motions and discovery rulings. Consolidating into one MDL will eliminate contradictory rulings from different judges and saves the cost of getting to trial by reducing duplicative discovery.
So far a dozen lawsuits naming Pradaxa have been filed in the federal court for the Southern District of Illinois and there are at least 27 Pradaxa lawsuits filed in 13 different federal courts around the country. They name Boehringer, which has U.S. offices in Connecticut, seeking product liability damages for breach of warranty, negligent misrepresentation, fraud, strict liability, negligence, and deceptive trade practices, among other charges.
Over the last three years, there have been nearly 300 fatal bleeding events worldwide at the same time Boehringer Ingelheim has promoted Pradaxa into blockbuster status with sales of $1 billion over the last year ending in February.
Meanwhile the drugmaker is working on an antidote to help stop deadly bleed-outs associated with Pradaxa but the drug still does not have a stern “black box” warning on its label, which is one of the few ways, besides lawsuits, that the public can have a chance of understanding what the risks are associated with Pradaxa.