It was the first loss handed to Bayer and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals over Xarelto. And when it was all over, an Indiana woman walked away with a verdict awarding her nearly $28 million. Or, so she thought.
Lynn Hartman’s Xarelto lawsuit verdict was notable not only for the size of the award but also because it was the first time Bayer and Johnson & Johnson had lost a Xarelto decision. Prior bellwether cases in Louisiana and Mississippi resulted in juries taking no issues with the way information regarding Xarelto’s safety had been made available. In their respective views, physicians and the general public had received all the information they needed when making the decision to start taking Xarelto or to try a different medication.
A Philadelphia jury, however, did not see things that way and awarded Hartman $1.8 million in damages while simultaneously including a $26 million punitive award. Ms. Hartman required four blood transfusions to keep her alive as the Xarelto she was administered over the course of a year triggered nearly fatal internal bleeding that has taken at least 370 lives across the country. Once Xarelto-related bleeding starts there is no way to stop it, as there is currently no antidote available for the blood thinner.
The Philadelphia verdict was overturned earlier this month by Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas Judge Michael Erdos. According to the attorney representing the Hartmans in their suit against the pharmaceutical giants, the judge’s decision was the result of a “very narrow issue related to Mrs. Hartman’s prescribing physician.”
As expected, Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Bayer seized on the judge’s decision and used the move to reaffirm their assertion that Xarelto is safe and that they bear no responsibility in a matter that has resulted in over 21,000 lawsuits being filed in federal and state courts. “Bayer stands behind the safety and efficacy of Xarelto and will continue to vigorously defend it,” said one of the manufacturers in a statement.
Additional Xarelto trials are scheduled to being this spring in Philadelphia.