A state court judge in Pennsylvania overturned a jury award on Tuesday of $27.8 million to a couple from Indiana who had accused Johnson & Johnson and Bayer AG of not warning of the risks of internal bleeding from Xarelto a drug the two companies developed, said both companies.
Judge Michael Erdos ruled after a hearing that was requested by the drug makers to reverse the verdict in December, which was the first loss in trial over the popular blood thinner, said the companies.
Janssen Pharmaceutical, a unit of J&J and Bayer, which developed Xarelto jointly, welcomed the court’s decision in separate statements saying they would continue defending against allegation in other related litigation.
Bayer remains behind the efficacy and safety of Xarelto and continued to defend it vigorously said Bayer in its statement.
The court’s verdict came in a suit filed by Lynn Hartman. She was prescribed the drug to prevent strokes due to atrial fibrillation, which is an irregular heartbeat.
She said she took the medication for nearly one year and was hospitalized during June of 2014 with gastrointestinal bleeding, which she said was caused by Xarelto. She since has recovered.
She and her husband sued the two drug makers and were awarded in December of a jury $1.8 million for compensatory damages and punitive damages of $26 million.
The lawsuit is just one of close to 21,400 J&J is facing in state and federal courts that blame injuries on the drug. The verdict was the first that resulted from close to 1,400 that are pending in the court.
The attorney representing the couple said that the judge’s decision was related to a narrow issue involving Hartman’s physician who prescribed the drug.
The United States Food and Drug Administration gave its approval to Xarelto during 2011. It is used for people that have atrial fibrillation, which is a common disorder of the heart rhythm and to treat as well as reduce risk of pulmonary embolisms and deep vein thrombosis.
However, plaintiffs contend that the drug is unreasonably dangerous and both Bayer and J&J did not warn patients sufficiently about the risk of irreversible, uncontrollable bleeding.
Both J&J and Bayer contend that the label on Xarelto adequately warns users about the risks of bleeding.
Federal juries cleared the two companies of any liability in a total of three previous lawsuits. The most recent verdict came this past August in litigation of a case involving a woman from Mississippi.