Manufactured by Bayer and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Xarelto (rivaroxaban) is a popular blood-thinning medication prescribed to prevent blood clots, strokes, and other thrombosis-related events in patients who've just had total knee or hip replacement surgery.
Xarelto belongs to a class of drugs known as direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs). While any blood-thinner carries a risk of internal bleeding, Xarelto has been linked to fatal irreversible bleeding events that have triggered thousands of lawsuits.
A recent Mayo Clinic study published in the medical journal Gastroenterology found that when compared to other popular drugs in its class, Xarelto had the highest bleeding rates, particularly for elderly patients.
Is Xarelto More Dangerous Than Its Competitors?
The answer to this question is a resounding yes, according to the results of the Mayo Clinic's recent large, population-based study. Mayo Clinic researchers examined data from approximately 57,000 patients with non-valve atrial fibrillation who were prescribed a DOAC—such as Xarelto, Eliquis (apixaban) and Pradaxa (dabigatran)—from October 1, 2010 to February 28, 2015 and experienced gastrointestinal bleeding.
For Xarelto users, the results are disturbing. Of all the DOAC drugs reviewed for the study, Xarelto was determined to have the least favorable safety profile, causing the most instances of gastrointestinal bleeding. In addition to revealing the bleeding risks associated with taking Xarelto in particular, the study also found that all these DOAC medications can increase the risk of bleeding events in patients age 75 and older.
DOACs vs. Old-Fashioned Blood-Thinners
When DOACs arrived on the scene a few years ago, the convenient dosing and lack of dietary restrictions threatened to make old-school anticoagulants like warfarin obsolete. However, despite the many advantages of DOACs, older anticoagulants still have a lot to offer.
To understand the two types of anticoagulants, it's important to know how they work. DOACs inhibit thrombin, a protein that's necessary for the formation of blood clots. Medications such as warfarin inhibit vitamin K, which is also essential in the clotting process.
Here's one of the most important differences between the two types of anti-clotting drugs: when an internal bleeding event occurs, warfarin patients can have their doctors administer vitamin K to reverse the drug's effects. Patients taking DOACs Xarelto and Eliquis have no such option. If they experience serious internal bleeding, the best their doctor can do is try to clean the medication from their blood through dialysis. Not only is this solution invasive, it's also largely ineffective.
Pradaxa was also without an antidote until the FDA approved Bayer and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals' Praxbind reversal agent.
As of March 2017, there were approximately 15,000 Xarelto lawsuits pending in courts all across the United States. Some were brought by people who experienced severe Xarelto side effects, while others were bought by the families of people who died as a result of a Xarelto-related bleeding event.
Many of the lawsuits allege that Bayer and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals sold a dangerous and defective drug, while others argue that Xarelto shouldn't have entered the market until a reversal agent was ready.
Bellwether trials for Xarelto will begin later this year, in 2017. A bellwether trial is when the parties state and test their arguments to move forward with resolution. If the previously-concluded Pradaxa lawsuits and settlements are any indication, plaintiffs can expect the case to proceed. Before the FDA approved Praxbind, Boehringer Ingelheim—Pradaxa's manufacturer—was hit with approximately 4,000 lawsuits, which it settled for $650 million.
Did You Suffer a Serious Bleeding Event While Taking Xarelto?
Experiencing serious bleeding while taking a DOAC medication like Xarelto is a difficult complication. If you suffered this and were forced to miss work during your recovery, you may wonder how you'll make ends meet. A successful dangerous drug lawsuit may help relieve your financial burdens. Contact McGartland Law today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your potential Xarelto lawsuit.