Do Drug Company Payments Influence Doctors' Decisions to Prescribe Xarelto®?

doctor and drug repXarelto (rivaroxaban) is a widely used blood-thinning medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the prevention of deep vein thrombosis in knee or hip replacement patients, as well as the prevention of blood clots and strokes in patients with abnormal heart rhythm, atrial fibrillation, and pulmonary embolism. A novel oral anticoagulant (NOAC), Xarelto is one of the most popular drugs in its class, despite being linked to a variety of serious side effects, including irreversible internal bleeding that's often fatal.

Manufactured by Bayer and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Xarelto's connection to potentially deadly complications hasn't dampened doctors' enthusiasm for the drug; to date, more than 4 million patients in the United States have been prescribed Xarelto, and pharmaceutical industry analysts expect sales of the drug to reach $3.68 billion in 2018.

Many patients have marveled at the disconnect between the severity of Xarelto's potential side effects and complications, and doctors' willingness to frequently write prescriptions for it. A new "Dollars for Docs" analysis from the independent non-profit news organization ProPublica raises some serious questions.

Drugmaker Payments and Perks

According to the ProPublica analysis, pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers gave approximately $2 billion in payments and perks to more than 600,000 doctors in the United States in 2014 and 2015. While some of these payments were for “gifts and royalties,” the $2 billion also covered consulting, travel, and promotional speaking expenses, as well as meals.

The analysis also revealed that doctors who received such payments and perks were slightly more likely to prescribe the brand-name drugs pushed by their generous pharmaceutical industry benefactors than doctors who didn't receive such payments.

The ProPublica analysis isn't the first data to show a correlation between payments and prescriptions. A 2016 Harvard Medical School study found that pharmaceutical industry payments to doctors were associated with an increase in the prescribing of brand-name prescription drugs. Furthermore, a 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that even doctors who just received meals from pharmaceutical industry representatives were more likely, on average, to prescribe brand-name drugs for their patients.

Another notable takeaway from the ProPublica Dollars for Docs analysis is the revelation that, in 2015, pharmaceutical companies spent more money on doctor payments for Xarelto than any other prescription drug—a whopping $28.4 million.

Serious Xarelto Side Effects

In addition to uncontrollable internal bleeding, and other bleeding-related side effects such as rectal hemorrhaging, brain bleeds, and abdominal or intestinal bleeds, Xarelto may also cause:

  • Easy or unexplained bruising
  • Back pain
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Weakness in the extremities
  • Arm or leg pain
  • Itching
  • Muscle pain or spasms
  • Headache
  • Loss of motor control
  • Bowel or bladder dysfunction
  • Reduced platelet levels
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Liver dysfunction

Xarelto Lawsuits

Since Xarelto's FDA approval in 2011 and 2012 (for different uses), more than 4,500 former Xarelto patients or their surviving family members have filed lawsuits against Bayer and  Janssen Pharmaceuticals, claiming that the companies failed to adequately warn patients about the potential for uncontrollable internal bleeding and other serious side effects. Some plaintiffs even allege that these manufacturers were aware of the risks, but chose to misrepresent the safety and effectiveness of Xarelto to consumers.

The current Xarelto cases have been consolidated into a multidistrict legislation. Due to this ruling, all Xarelto lawsuits will be heard in a Louisiana courtroom by Judge Eldon E. Fallon.

Are You Considering a Xarelto Lawsuit?

If you experienced serious side effects while taking Xarelto, or lost a loved one to a Xarelto-related uncontrollable bleeding event, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit in civil court to seek compensation from the drug's manufacturers, Bayer and Janssen Pharmaceuticals. Contact McGartland Law today to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your case with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys. Should you decide to move forward with your lawsuit, our attorneys will help you fight to receive every cent you deserve.