May 28 (Reuters) - German drugmaker Boehringer Ingelheim said it would pay about $650 million to settle U.S. lawsuits that claimed the company's blockbuster blood thinner Pradaxa had caused severe and fatal bleeding in patients.
Boehringer said it expected to resolve about 4,000 claims with the settlement. The claimants had accused the company of not issuing sufficient warnings of the risks associated with Pradaxa.
While Boehringer did not disclose if the settlement included any admission of guilt by the company, it said the deal would allow it to avoid the distraction and uncertainty of a lengthy litigation process.
"BI stands resolutely behind Pradaxa and believed from the outset that the plaintiffs' claims lacked merit," said Desiree Ralls-Morrison, senior vice president and general counsel, Boehringer Ingelheim USA Corp.
Pradaxa belongs to a promising new class of medicines designed to replace decades-old warfarin in preventing strokes in patients suffering from atrial fibrillation, a form of irregular heartbeat common among the elderly.
The drug, which competes with Bayer and Johnson & Johnson's Xarelto as well as Bristol Myers-Squibb and Pfizer's Eliquis, saw annual sales of about 1.2 billion euros ($1.63 billion) in 2013.
($1 = 0.7345 Euros) (Reporting by Esha Dey in Bangalore; Editing by Simon Jennings)