The manufacturer of a blood thinner will pay $650 million to settle claims brought by 4,000 consumers and next of kin who claimed to have been injured by the drug.
Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, makers of Pradaxa, agreed on the settlement this week, resolving litigation that began in November 2011. The plaintiffs alleged that the drug, approved by the FDA in 2010 for patients suffering from a heart condition called atrial fibrillation, caused bleeding events leading to injury or death.
The settlement was approved by Chief Judge David Herndon of the U.S. Southern District of Illinois, after negotiations between Boehringer and a 27-lawyer committee for the plaintiffs. (We're guessing Boehringer's representatives, like most sane people, felt it was totally worth $650 million to not have to deal with a committee of nearly 30 freaking lawyers for one more minute. Can you imagine?)
One of those attorneys is Mikal Watts of San Antonio-based Watts Guerra, which filed the first federal injury and death claims against Boehringer. He stated in a press release, "We are pleased that today's settlement will bring justice and financial assistance to those hurt while taking Pradaxa. We are proud of the settlement we have achieved, congratulate the company on doing the right thing, and look forward to distributing these funds to our clients as expeditiously as possible."
Watts, who was appointed by Herndon as co-lead counsel, told the Houston Press in 2012 that "Pradaxa is the worst drug I have seen, and there is no doubt in my mind that they will be forced to recall it in order to stop the serial killing of Americans that are on this bad drug."
Boehringer, of course, disagrees, stating in its own release that the company still stands behind the drug and "believed from the outset that the plaintiffs' claims lacked any merit."
The company also stated that the settlement "enables Boehringer Ingelheim to focus solely on its mission of improving patients' lives and allows the company to avoid the distraction and uncertainty of lengthy litigation."
Boehringer noted as well that the settlement "comes after a reaffirmation from the [FDA] of the positive benefit-risk profile of Pradaxa, when it published the results of a Medicare study of more than 134,000 patients."