Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer are riding a hot streak in court defending against Eliquis liability lawsuits, most recently with a judge’s decision to toss 20 cases in New York. With the ruling and an earlier round of victories, the drugmakers have whittled away all but one lawsuit in a set accusing the company of downplaying the drug's bleeding risks, Pfizer says.
A U.S. federal judge for the Southern District of New York threw out 20 cases last week after finding that the med’s labeling information is adequate and that the state law allegations in the suits were preempted by federal law. The plaintiffs had argued that the drugmakers are responsible for their injuries because the anticoagulant was overly dangerous and because the companies failed to warn about bleeding risks.
Back in May, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote tossed a suit filed by Charlie and Ciara Utts, who said the big-selling Eliquis caused Charlie to experience severe gastrointestinal bleeding. In doing so, the court found that the med’s risks were known and public.
Cote then directed other plaintiffs in the multidistrict litigation (MDL) to explain why their lawsuits shouldn’t be thrown out on the same grounds. Since then, the court tossed 24 cases in late June and another 20 last week.
“This decision affirms the companies’ long-held belief that these claims lacked merit,” a Pfizer spokesperson told FiercePharma via email, adding that there’s now just one MDL case remaining.
The companies aren’t in the clear yet, however. According to Bristol’s latest quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the companies face about 100 liability suits for Eliquis in state and federal courts in the U.S. and two in Canada.
Back in May, three patients filed suit in New York State court alleging their severe bleeding injuries were caused because the companies “negligently and fraudulently” represented their blockbuster med as “safe and effective for its indicated uses.” A Pfizer spokeswoman at the time said the cases “lack merit” and added that the companies will “vigorously” defend their drug.
The recent victories are important as Eliquis represents a key sales driver for the drug companies, pulling in $3.3 billion last year, Bristol reported. Meanwhile, a rival in the class, Xarelto, has been named in 18,400 injury suits against Johnson & Johnson and Bayer.
So far, those drugmakers are two for two in bellwether trials for that blood thinner. Another Xarelto trial is set to start in early August.