Boehringer blood thinner lawsuits due to start in August

FRANKFURT Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:25am EST

FRANKFURT Feb 19 (Reuters) - U.S. courts are scheduled to start hearing cases against Boehringer Ingelheim over its stroke prevention pill Pradaxa in August, the German drugmaker said on Wednesday.

Boehringer is facing more than 2,000 lawsuits in the United States over claims that the blockbuster drug, the first in a new class of stroke prevention pills, caused severe and fatal bleeding.

Judges have selected about a handful of so-called bellwether trials that will be used as a reference for the remaining cases and may guide any out-of-court settlements.

The first such case, in the form of multidistrict litigation where several cases are bundled together, is slated to start on Aug. 11 in East St. Louis, Illinois, court documents posted on the Internet show.

A Boehringer spokeswoman said the schedule could be subject to change.

Claimants accuse Boehringer of not having sufficiently warned of the risks associated with Pradaxa.

The unlisted company has said the risk of side effects was known and was outweighed by the drug's life-saving potential.

Pradaxa was the first to market in a promising new class of medicines designed to replace decades-old warfarin to prevent strokes in patients suffering from atrial fibrillation, a form of irregular heartbeat common among the elderly.

Sales of the pill - which competes with Bayer and Johnson & Johnson's Xarelto as well as Bristol Myers-Squibb and Pfizer's Eliquis - were 1.1 billion euros ($1.5 billion) in 2012, its second year of market approval.