A $650 million settlement is a hefty chunk of change, but it was a better outcome than the alternative for one drug maker.
Boehringer Ingelheim, a German pharmaceutical company, was facing multiple lawsuits after families claimed Pradaxa, a blood thinner, caused severe and often fatal bleeding in those who took it. The drug is said to reduce the risk of stroke in those suffering from non-valvular atrial fibrillation. While internal bleeding is a side effect of this particular class of blood thinners, Boehringer Ingelheim claims that Pradaxa is safer than its closest contemporary - warfarin.
Despite their claims, Boehringer Ingelheim chose to settle to avoid any lengthy litigation:
"Time and again, the benefits and safety of Pradaxa have been confirmed," said Desiree Ralls-Morrison, senior vice president and general counsel, Boehringer Ingelheim USA Corporation. "BI stands resolutely behind Pradaxa and believed from the outset that the plaintiffs' claims lacked merit. Notwithstanding our strong belief that we would prevail in these lawsuits, this settlement allows BI to avoid the distraction and uncertainty of lengthy litigation and focus on our mission of improving patients' lives."
While Boehringer Ingelheim believes the settlement will satisfy most, it says that it's ready to combat any plaintiffs that don't take their offer:
There are approximately 4,000 claims that the company seeks to resolve with this settlement. BI expects most, if not all, of the plaintiffs to accept the terms of the settlement and BI will vigorously defend against those who do not.
It doesn't seem that Boehringer Ingelheim is trying to sweep this issue under the rug, but it does seem to be moving the blame away from its drug. The company claims that its product is safe when taken properly. It also implores those taking the drug to consult a doctor before making any major changes to their intake:
As with any anticoagulant, there needs to be a balanced consideration of stroke risk reduction and bleeding risk. Patients should not stop taking their anticoagulant medication without first talking to their health care providers. Discontinuing anticoagulation therapy puts a patient at increased risk of stroke.
Here's more information on Pradaxa and its effects:
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