JPMDL Consolidates Eliquis Product Liability Litigation into New MDL in NY

eliquis-5mg-60slblThe Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation created new MDL No. 2754 to hear product liability litigation against Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Pfizer Inc. and McKesson Corporation charging that blood-thinner Eliquis (apixaban) causes severe and fatal bleeding.

There is a total of 53 actions pending in 17 districts raising substantially the same factual and legal issues concerning plaintiffs’ alleged injuries arising from Eliquis and over a dozen involved plaintiffs’ firms. Moreover, the parties unanimously agree that there is a strong likelihood of additional federal actions and also report a significant number of state court actions.

US District Judge Denise L. Cote in Southern District of New York will supervise the cases. The defendants requested the MDL, and the plaintiffs argued unsuccessfully to continue informal coordination.

“We find that, on this record, informal coordination is not an efficient alternative to centralization,” the JDMDL said. “In addition to the unsuccessful efforts to coordinate discovery informally, it is clear that the number of involved counsel, the large number of actions and districts, and the complexity of the factual issues pose significant obstacles to informal coordination.”

Insufficient testing

All the actions share common factual questions arising out of allegations that plaintiffs suffered severe bleeding and related injuries as a result of taking Eliquis (apixaban), that defendants did not conduct sufficient testing of the drug, and that defendants’ warnings and instructions as to the alleged risks, including the unavailability of a reversal agent to counteract bleeding, were inadequate. Issues concerning the design, testing, manufacture, regulatory approval, labeling, and marketing of Eliquis thus are common to all actions.

Eliquis is an oral anti-coagulant first put on the market in Europe in 2012 and then approved by the FDA in 2014 for use in the United States. The clinical trials are alleged to have documented adverse effects including severe internal bleeding and other severe adverse symptoms including at least one death caused by Eliquis, which went unreported. Bristol-Myers and Pfizer chose to place Eliquis on the market while failing to disclose this critical information as required.

Currently the claims in the MDL include wrongful death as well as ongoing severe medical injuries. Eliquis is another in the line of recent blood thinner products including Pradaxa and Xarelto that have been the subject of Multi-District Litigations, including drug maker Boehringer Ingelheim’s $650 million settlement in 2014 to settle the Pradaxa MDL.  The recent Eliquis lawsuits center on patients who have died from internal bleeding or suffered other critical life-altering injuries, including Deborah Herschell who’s husband died after using Eliquis in June 2015 and Oliver Becker who suffered from atrial fibrillation (AFib) and also died after being prescribed Eliquis.

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