Xeljanz Lawsuits (a Plaintiff Lawyer's Guide)

Xeljanz lawsuits are legal claims by consumers of the drug against the manufacturer Pfizer. These lawsuits allege that the drug is defectively designed and that Pfizer failed adequately to warn about serious side effects. Plaintiffs are seeking compensation for injuries such as:

  • Serious infections,
  • Stomach or intestinal perforations and tearing,
  • Problems with the immune system,
  • Pulmonary embolism, or a blocked artery in the lungs, especially when patients are taking 10mg doses of Xeljanz,1
  • Liver damage, and
  • Cancer, including blood cancers like Lymphoma.

Xeljanz is a prescription drug that was developed to treat rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. However, since it has been on the market, Xeljanz has been linked to numerous side effects so severe that European agencies refused to approve it.

In this article, our mass tort attorneys explain the risks associated with Xeljanz, how a lawsuit would work, the compensation that you can recover in a successful lawsuit, and the statute of limitations that would govern the case. Specifically, we will discuss:

xeljanz bottle
Xeljanz (Tofacitinib)

1. How Xeljanz works

Xeljanz is the brand name for the drug tofacitinib, which was developed by the giant pharmaceutical company Pfizer to treat arthritis. It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in November, 2012, as an arthritis medication, and in May, 2018, as a treatment for ulcerative colitis.

Xeljanz works by inhibiting Janus kinase enzymes, which changes how the nucleus of a cell interacts with its surroundings. This alters how the nucleus transcribes DNA, a process that can lead to rheumatoid arthritis if there are problems in the transcription process that inflame and damage joints. Xeljanz aims to prevent those problems. Xeljanz is especially sought after because it comes in a pill form, making it easier to take than similar drugs, which have to be injected.

1.1. Side effects linked to Xeljanz

While Xeljanz has helped many people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, it has also come with numerous side effects. The most common are cold-like symptoms like:

  • Infections to the respiratory tract,
  • Sinus infections,
  • Sore throat,
  • Headache,
  • Runny nose,
  • Nasal congestion, and
  • Diarrhea

However, there have also been far more serious side effects that have occurred at an alarming level, such as:

  • Serious infections,
  • Stomach or intestinal perforations and tearing,
  • Problems with the immune system,
  • Pulmonary embolism,
  • Liver damage, and
  • Cancer, including blood cancers like Lymphoma

Many of these side effects can be fatal.

The gravity of these side effects, coupled with what it found were less-than-satisfactory results, led the European Medicines Agency – the European Union's equivalent of the FDA – to refuse to approve Xeljanz for use in Europe.

2. What can I do if I get hurt by Xeljanz?

If you have suffered from the side effects of Xeljanz, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against Pfizer, as well as other companies, for their negligence. As the plaintiff, you would have to show four things to win the case and recover compensation for your injuries:

  1. The defendants, including Pfizer, owed you a duty of care;
  2. Those defendants breached that duty;
  3. That breach caused your injuries and losses; and
  4. The extent of your losses, also known as your legal damages2

Possible allegations in a Xeljanz lawsuit could include:

  • Pfizer could have created Xeljanz in a way that reduced the risk or severity of the side effects that caused your injuries, but decided not to,
  • Pfizer actively covered up the risks associated with Xeljanz during the approval process,
  • Pfizer did not tell doctors about the risks associated with Xeljanz, in an attempt to get them to prescribe more pills,
  • The FDA did not do its due diligence during the approval process for Xeljanz.

2.1. What can I do if a loved one has died from Xeljanz?

If a loved was taking Xeljanz and was killed by one of the side effects of the drug, you can file a wrongful death claim against the companies who acted negligently. In most states, to win a wrongful death lawsuit in a Xeljanz lawsuit, you would have to show:

  1. Your loved one died;
  2. The death was caused by the defendant's negligence; and
  3. Surviving family members have suffered financial hardship from the loss.

The compensation that a wrongful death lawsuit can recover is slightly different from a personal injury lawsuit, as well. Rather than focusing on compensating the victim, wrongful death lawsuits focus on compensating the victim's relatives and loved ones.

physician holding patient's hand
If a loved was taking Xeljanz and was killed by one of the side effects of the drug, you can file a wrongful death claim against the companies who acted negligently.

3. How do I prove my Xeljanz claim?

Personal injury lawsuits are civil claims that use the “preponderance of the evidence” standard. This means that you have to show it is more likely than not that the defendant was negligent and caused your injuries.

Showing that the defendant in a Xeljanz claim was negligent by a preponderance of the evidence would likely involve:

  • Your medical records and history,
  • Expert testimony from doctors and researchers who are familiar with how Xeljanz works, and
  • Testimony from people who work or worked for the defendant companies about Xeljanz.

3.1. What can I recover in a personal injury lawsuit for an injury caused by Xeljanz?

If you have been hurt by Xeljanz, a successful personal injury lawsuit would recover compensatory damages, which aim to cover your losses and bring you back to where you were, before the incident. They include:

Additionally, punitive damages may be a possibility in a Xeljanz lawsuit if it can be shown that the defendants' conduct was especially disturbing.

3.2. When can I sue?

Lawsuits have to abide by the statute of limitations. These force plaintiffs and injured parties to file their claim within a certain time period.

Most states require that a lawsuit be brought within two years of the time you knew or should have known of the injuries.

4. Reach out to a California personal injury attorney

california xeljanz attorneys
Call us for help at (855) LAW-FIRM

If you or a loved one has been hurt by the side effects of Xeljanz, hiring a personal injury attorney can be the best way to invoke your rights and recover the compensation that you deserve. Call the Shouse Law Office at 855-LAWFIRM or contact their personal injury attorneys online.


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