Johnson & Johnson and Bayer have already prevailed in several lawsuits claiming their anticoagulant Xarelto caused severe injuries, and now a judge has ordered 1,200 more cases to be prepared for trials in courts around the country.
U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon in New Orleans signed an order to assign 600 cases for discovery in the first wave and 600 in the second. The first wave will be selected by the end of April, with the second wave to be picked by August 30, according to lawyers at Beasley Allen.
A Bayer spokesperson said the order "was expected and is simply the next step in the administration of this litigation." He said the drugmaker will "continue to pursue dispositive motion practice as appropriate."
"We are confident that we will continue to prevail in any jurisdiction in this litigation, stand behind the safety and efficacy of Xarelto, and will continue to vigorously defend it," he added.
As of its latest annual report, J&J faces about 22,900 Xarelto liability cases. Bayer said it faces about 22,000 cases.
The drugmakers so far have been able to successfully defend their blockbuster anticoagulant, prevailing in three cases last year and coming up short in December in a case worth $28 million. But that loss was short-lived as a judge overturned the verdict in January on grounds that it was an unreasonable result.
At the time, the companies said they were pleased and that they would continue to defend their product.
The plaintiff's attorney said the "dismissal was based on a very narrow issue," adding that the original verdict "has far broader implications for the Xarelto litigation as a whole."
"We look forward to trying the next series of cases in Philadelphia," he added.
Xarelto generated $2.5 billion in sales for J&J last year and €3.3 billion for Bayer, according to annual filings.
Editor's note: This story was updated with a statement from Bayer.