Bristol-Meyers and Pfizer Seek MDL for Eliquis Blood-Thinner Litigation

eliquis-5mg-60slblBristol-Meyers Squibb Company and Pfizer Inc. have filed a motion to create new MDL No. 2757 in New York to hear Eliquis (Apixaban) products liability litigation. The US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPMDL) will hear the motion Jan. 26 in Miami.

This litigation currently consists of 34 related actions filed in 13 different federal districts. The companies propose the cases be consolidated in the Southern District of New York, where judges are handling 27 MDLs, notably two prominent product liability MDLs for Rezulin and Fosamax.

The plaintiffs allege that they suffered various bleeding-related injuries as a result of taking Eliquis after their physicians prescribed it, and charge that the defendants failed to warn adequately about the risk of bleeding and that the defendants should not have sold Eliquis without precautions for blood monitoring or an additional drug to reverse its anticoagulant effect.

As safe as aspirin?

Eliquis thins the blood, prevents the formation of blood clots, and significantly decreases the risk of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation and certain other conditions. Atrial fibrillation is a common arrhythmia (abnormal heart beat) that causes blood clots to form in the heart. Eliquis was designed to replace warfarin.

The companies claim that Eliquis “is no less safe than a daily aspirin.” The FDA approved Eliqius in December 2012. The Eliquis label carries a warning that the medication “can cause serious, potentially fatal bleeding,” that there “is no established way to reverse the anticoagulant effect of apixaban,” and that “[a] specific antidote for Eliquis is not available.”

The first lawsuit was filed August 4, 2015, and plaintiff’s counsel have promised they intend to file many more cases.

For example, the complaint in Charlie Utts and Ciara Utts  v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and Pfizer Inc.Case 1:16-cv-05668-DLC (S.D.N.Y) alleges that the companies:

  • Failed to provide adequate warnings about the increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeds in those taking Eliquis, especially, in those patients with a history of gastrointestinal issues and upset;
  • Failed to provide adequate warnings about the increased risk of suffering a bleeding event, requiring blood transfusions in those taking Eliquis;
  • Failed to provide adequate warnings about the need to assess renal functioning before starting a patient on Eliquis and to continue testing and monitoring of renal functioning periodically while the patient is on Eliquis.
  • Failed to provide adequate warnings about the need to assess hepatic functioning prior to starting a patient on Eliquis and to continue testing and monitoring of hepatic functioning periodically while the patient is on Eliquis.

The companies requested the MDL be set in New York because their headquarters, witnesses and documents are there. Almost half of the lawsuits have been filed in New York. The JPMDL has centralized product liability litigation for other anticoagulants including Pradaxa and Xarelto. The Pradaxa litigation culminated in 2014, while the Xarelto MDL has been ongoing for nearly two years.

Attorneys Loren H. Brown of New York and Matthew A. Holian of Boston, both with DLA Piper, filed the motion.

 


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