Cook Medical wins first trial over blood-clot filters

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Cook Medical has won the first bellwether trial over its blood-clot filters, which thousands of patients have complained are defective.

A federal jury in Evansville returned a unanimous verdict Thursday in favor of the Bloomington-based maker of medical devices, following a three-week trial.

Bellwether cases are small groups of lawsuits that are tried first and serve as a litmus test for how the remaining cases might be tried and decided. Two more bellwether cases against Cook are scheduled to follow.

Nearly 3,000 people have filed lawsuits against Cook Medical as of October, according to the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. Many of the plaintiffs claim the company’s blood-clot filters malfunctioned, sometimes piercing organs and blood vessels, requiring surgeons to remove them.

The devices—also known as inferior vena cava filters, or IVC filters—are small, cage-like devices inserted into the main vessel returning blood from the lower half of the body to the heart.

“We are pleased with this outcome,” said Mark Breedlove, vice president of Cook’s vascular division. “Our IVC filters are clinically successful devices critical to patient well-being.”

Cook has said IVC filters help prevent an estimated 100,000 deaths associated with pulmonary embolism every year in the U.S.

About 200,000 blood clot filters are implanted nationwide each year. The market for IVC filters is $435 million, according to market research firm Axis Research Mind.

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