Patients who have been injured after taking one of the new generations of anticoagulants are increasingly turning to personal injury lawyers for help. This article will explain their concerns and will help you understand what you can do if you have had an adverse reaction to one of these medications.
The Risk of Taking Anticoagulants
Anticoagulants are commonly known as blood thinners. They are often prescribed to people who have a high risk of developing blood clots that could prevent the free flow of blood through arteries, potentially causing a stroke. Blood clots can also lead to other serious health conditions, including deep vein thrombosis (clotting that causes swelling in the legs and thighs) and pulmonary embolisms (the blockage of arteries in the lungs).
While anticoagulants are vital to the health of many patients, there are risks associated with their use. The possibility that the drug will cause internal bleeding is one of the most serious concerns.
For years, Warfarin has been the most frequently prescribed anticoagulant. The correct dosage of Warfarin is difficult to control and an incorrect dosage can cause internal bleeding and other health problems. Fortunately, an antidote to Warfarin is available that can be administered to patients who experience internal bleeding as a result of using the drug.
In recent years, drug companies have developed a new generation of anticoagulants that are designed to overcome the problems of Warfarin. The manufacturers claim that the same dose of the drug can be given to any patient so that doctors and patients will not need to monitor and adjust dosages as they do with Warfarin. Many observers have concluded that the new drugs were rushed to market without an adequate warning of the key problem that patients who take them may encounter.
The New Drugs: Pradaxa, Xarelto, and Eliquis
Pradaxa is the trade name used in the United States for dabigatran, an anticoagulant that was developed by the German pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim. The Food and Drug Administration approved Pradaxa in 2010 for the prevention of stroke in certain categories of patients, including those with irregular heartbeats.
Xarelto is the trade name of an anticoagulant known generically as rivaroxaban. Xarelto was developed by the German drug manufacturer Bayer and licensed for distribution in the United States by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a company that is owned by Johnson & Johnson. The FDA approved the prescription of Xarelto in 2011 for patients who had hip replacement or knee surgery, and later, after a fast-track review, expanded the list of approved uses to include certain medical conditions, including pulmonary embolisms and deep vein thrombosis. The FDA has repeatedly rejected Bayerâ€™s applications to approve additional uses for Xarelto.
Eliquis, generically known as apixaban, is the most recent entrant into the market of anticoagulants. Eliquis was developed jointly by Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb. After delaying action for two years, the FDA approved Eliquis in 2014 for the treatment of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolisms.
Understanding the Risks of the New Anticoagulants
All anticoagulants create a risk of internal bleeding. Warfarin is a difficult drug to manage, but an antidote to the drug is widely available. Pradaxa, Xarelto, and Eliquis are easier to administer, but when they cause internal bleeding, there is no way to reverse their anticoagulant effects. Janssen Pharmaceuticals admits that dialysis cannot be used to flush Xarelto from the body and that no antidote to the drug is available.
An article in the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine reports that physicians should be wary of prescribing a drug when they do not know how to manage bleeding that the drug may produce. Patients with internal bleeding must often be hospitalized. Statistics gathered by the FDA indicated that more than 500 patients bled to death after taking Pradaxa. The number of deaths may be greater, however, in light of a news report that the manufacturer of Pradaxa withheld accurate information from the FDA about deaths caused by bleeding.
The Institute for Safe Medication Practices noted in 2013 that Pradaxa had been the primary focus of its safety concerns during the previous two years but that reports of adverse effects caused by Xarelto are now overtaking those associated with Pradaxa. Eliquis is new to the market but since no antidote exists that will reverse its effects, there is reason to fear that patients who take Eliquis are also at risk.
Compensation for Injury and Death
Since Pradaxa has been on the market longer than the other two anticoagulants, it is not surprising that most litigation to date has focused on that drug. The lawsuits have been filed by patients who suffered severe injuries after taking Pradaxa and by the family members of patients who bled to death after taking the drug.
Most lawsuits have accused Pradaxa’s manufacturer of misrepresenting the safety of the product or of failing to warn patients about the serious risk of uncontrolled bleeding. The manufacturer has agreed to settle thousands of those lawsuits.
The first lawsuits are now being filed seeking compensation for injuries and deaths resulting from Xarelto. Many more are likely to be filed in the coming months and years. If patients experience similar disastrous results after taking Eliquis, they should also turn to the courts for justice.
If you have experienced serious injury or a loved one has died as the result of taking Pradaxa, Xarelto, or Eliquis, speak to a personal injury lawyer who handles pharmaceutical cases to preserve your rights. The attorneys at Advocate Law Group have decades of experience handling product liability and personal injury claims. We work with leading product liability firms nationwide to help our clients obtain results. Contact us for a free case evaluation.