Blood thinners have always come with a risk of increased bleeding. They are typically only prescribed for serious cases in which the benefits outweigh the very real risks. In recent years, pharmaceutical companies have introduced new blood thinners, claiming they have less side-effects and require less observation than older versions, such as Warfarin. However, recent reports have linked some of these new blood thinners to potentially life-threatening conditions, such as brain hemorrhaging, gastrointestinal bleeding, and other internal bleeding. Three of these drugs, Pradaxa, Xarelto, and Eliquis, are now the subject of thousands of lawsuits. In fact, Pradaxa alone may be linked to more than 1,400 deaths. Contact a Boston Drug Injury Lawyer.Atrial Fibrilation
Atrial fibrillation is characterized by an abnormal heart rhythm that presents more as a flutter than a regular beat. When a patient remains in atrial fibrillation for an extended period of time, it increases the chance of blood clotting. If a blood clot travels to the brain, it can result in stroke, or even death. Blood thinners are often prescribed to treat atrial fibrillation, which is most common in the elderly but can occur at any age.
For decades, Warfarin was the industry standard of anticoagulation therapies. Atrial fibrillation patients undergoing Warfarin treatment were subjected to constant blood monitoring due to the high risk of bleeding. However, in 2010 a new class of blood thinners known as thrombin inhibitors was introduced by manufacturer Boehringer Inegelheim. This new class claimed to have less side-effects and no blood monitoring requirements. Pradaxa was the first of these drugs to hit the market. The less invasive, more convenient alternative to Warfarin quickly gained popularity and was soon generating more than $1 billion in annual sales. Shortly thereafter, however, it gained a less desirable reputation as one of the FDA’s most commonly reported ‘adverse event’ prescription medications.Thrombin Inhibitors Responsible for 8,000 Deaths
According to a February, 2014 Bloomberg report, Boehringer Ingelheim may have withheld crucial information during the FDA’s approval process of Pradaxa, including the omission of 22 serious bleeding incidents. The report also stated that the drug may be linked to over 1,400 deaths. However, another investigation conducted by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/MedPage found that Pradaxa and two other drugs in its class, Xarelto and Eliquis, are collectively responsible for a total of 8,000 deaths since 2010. In fact, the deaths from these three drugs account for 90% of all fatalities reported to the FDA in that five-year period.
Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), the joint manufacturers of Eliquis, continue to aggressively market the drug despite growing concerns over fatal bleeding risks with Pradaxa and Xarelto. Pfizer and BMS have recently increased their direct-to-consumer marketing for Eliquis, and the drug is now indicated for the treatment of other medical conditions such as pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis.Pradaxa, Eliquis, and Xarelto All Lack Hemorrhaging Antidote
The main risk factor with thrombin inhibitors is their lack of an approved reversal agent, or antidote, to stop hemorrhaging if it occurs. Although Warfarin also poses an increased bleeding risk, if a serious bleeding event occurs, the anticoagulant effects can be quickly halted by administering vitamin K and frozen plasma. All three of the drugs in this new class lack the reversal agent needed to stop hemorrhaging among users. Many of the lawsuits against these drugs claim that the manufacturers failed to warn of the lack of an antidote. Pradaxa manufacturer Boehringer Ingelheim settled approximately 4,000 lawsuits earlier this year for a total of $650 million.Altman & Altman, LLP – Drug Injury Attorneys Serving All of New England
It’s common knowledge these days that many prescription drugs have a long list of side-effects. However, side effects are typically rare and the drugs are not prescribed unless the benefits outweigh the risks. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for thousands of people who lost their lives after taking Pradaxa, Eliquis, or Xarelto. The experienced drug injury lawyers at Altman & Altman, LLP will evaluate the details of your case and help you determine how to move forward. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.