Pradaxa® Patients: Avoid These Foods and Drugs

drug interactionsPatients who take anticoagulant medications for the prevention of blood clots and strokes have long grappled with inconveniences such as weekly blood tests and dietary restrictions.

However, in 2010, a new class of blood-thinners entered the market. Known as novel oral anticoagulants (NOACs), these drugs offered patients far more convenience and freedom than their predecessors. The first and most-prescribed drug in this class is Pradaxa (dabigatran etexilate mesylate), which is manufactured and marketed
by Boehringer Ingelheim, Germany's second-largest drugmaker.

While Pradaxa has fewer requirements and restrictions than other blood-thinners such as warfarin, there are still a few things that patients should know before taking their first dose.

Drugs to Avoid While on Pradaxa

When taken together, some common medications can interact with Pradaxa, changing the way drug works in the body. Depending on the medication, drug interactions may decrease Pradaxa's life-saving blood-thinning effects; or cause the drug to work too well, increasing the patient's risk of experiencing an uncontrollable bleeding event. This is why it's so important to tell your doctor about all the medications you're taking—including over-the-counter medications, other prescription drugs, and even vitamins and herbal supplements—before you take Pradaxa.

The following medications and supplements should be avoided while taking Pradaxa; if you currently take any of these, talk to your doctor:

  • Aspirin
  • Products containing aspirin
  • Medications containing heparin
  • Jantoven® or Coumadin® (warfarin)
  • Multaq® (dronedarone)
  • Nizoral® (ketoconazole)
  • Effient® (prasugrel)
  • Plavix® (clopidogrel bisulfate)
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Korlym® (mifepristone)
  • Tybost® (cobicistat)
  • Neoral®, Sandimmune®, Restasis®, and Gengraf® (cyclosporine)
  • Rifadin® (rifampin)
  • St. John's Wart

Are There Foods to Avoid While Taking Pradaxa?

Patients taking older anticoagulants, such as warfarin, were required to avoid eating foods that were high in vitamin K, such as cabbage, spring onions, broccoli, fermented soy products, Brussels sprouts, and kale and other leafy greens. This is because warfarin inhibits the clotting process by reducing the amount of vitamin K in the blood.

Pradaxa, on the other hand, impedes clotting using a completely different mechanism of action—it inhibits thrombin, an enzyme that enables platelets to stick together to form blood clots. Because Pradaxa's blood-thinning action isn't related to vitamin levels in the blood, people taking the drug aren't required to avoid certain types of foods. Pradaxa patients can enjoy the potentially life-saving benefits of an anticoagulant while eating healthy green vegetables.

Other Contraindications to Note

Pradaxa isn't for everyone. The drug was approved for use in adult patients with abnormal heart rhythm or atrial fibrillation that wasn't caused by a problem with the heart valves, but its safety hasn't been studied in pediatric patients.

Women who are pregnant, plan to become pregnant or are nursing shouldn't take Pradaxa, as it has not been proven safe for unborn babies or infants, and it is unknown how much Pradaxa passes into the breast milk. Additionally, patients who have a mechanical prosthetic heart valve, active pathological bleeding, or kidney problems should avoid taking Pradaxa. The drug is also contraindicated for patients who have had bleeding problems, stomach ulcers, or an allergic reaction to Pradaxa's active ingredient, dabigatran.

Have You Experienced Harmful Pradaxa Side Effects?

Even patients who are good candidates for Pradaxa who avoid potential drug interactions may experience Pradaxa-related side effects. Some of the most common Pradaxa side effects include upset stomach, nausea, indigestion, heartburn, stomach pain, diarrhea, and itching.

Uncontrollable internal bleeding is the most serious side effect or complication associated with Pradaxa. In fact, it's the leading cause of death among patients taking the drug. Talk to your doctor if you notice bleeding-related symptoms such as weakness and fainting, unexplained bleeding or bruising, swollen or painful joints, or blood in the urine or stool.

If you experienced a serious bleeding event while taking Pradaxa, you may be able to pursue compensation from the drug's manufacturer. Contact McGartland Law today to schedule a free initial appointment to discuss the details of your potential Pradaxa case.