People take blood thinners because their doctors advise them to do so. Usually, when it’s a prescription-strength medication, patients rely on them to help them avoid life-threatening issues. Unfortunately, sometimes the medications themselves can also be life-threatening. For many, that was the case with anticoagulant Xarelto, also known as rivaroxaban.
Xarelto is a prescription medication used to reduce one’s risk of stroke and blood clots. Physicians prescribe it for people with chronic coronary artery disease (CAD) or peripheral artery disease (PAD) to further reduce their risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Thousands of patients experienced bleeding episodes while taking Xarelto, some of which were fatal.
Bayer manufactured and Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a Johnson & Johnson company, marketed anticoagulant Xarelto starting in 2011. Marketing presented it as an alternative to another common prescription blood thinner Warfarin, also known as Coumadin and Jantoven. Side effects of rivaroxaban are similar to those of another potentially dangerous drug, Pradaxa.
Warfarin required regular blood tests to make sure patients maintained effective levels. They also had to watch their diet, since certain foods and beverages could make Warfarin less effective. Bayer and Janssen Pharmaceuticals marketed Xarelto as an easy to use pill that didn’t require regular testing or dietary adjustments.
However, the anticoagulant has potentially life-threatening side effects. If patients taking Warfarin started to experience internal bleeding, healthcare professionals could give them Vitamin K as an antidote to stimulate clotting.
The FDA only recently approved an antidote for Xarelto, so until then there was no way to reverse anticoagulation due to life-threatening or uncontrolled bleeding. Plus, Xarelto is often only effective for 15-16 hours per dose. A missed dose could leave patients unprotected and at increased risk for blood clots. Mayo Clinic says these are the “more common” side effects:
- Bleeding gums
- Bloody stools
- Coughing up blood
- Difficulty with breathing or swallowing
- Vomiting of blood or material that looks like coffee grounds
- Abdominal hemorrhages
- Wound infection and complication
There’s a long list of additional potential side effects that also includes uncontrollable, irreversible bleeding, cerebral hemorrhaging, stroke and death.
Xarelto Lawsuit Settlement
The Institute for Safe Medication Practices released a report in 2016 stating Xarelto injuries and fatalities were up 40 percent over the previous year. Of the drugs in its class, rivaroxaban accounted for more deaths and hospital admissions than any of the others. Yet it continued to be one of Johnson & Johnson’s top-selling products, bringing in almost $2.5 billion in 2018.
There were more than 25,000 lawsuits from victims injured by Xarelto. In March of this year, Janssen settled them for $775 Million. Lawyers representing Xarelto patients said the companies didn’t warn them about the deadly bleeding episodes they might experience. For years if they experienced massive bleeding that didn’t respond to standard treatment, there was no specific antidote.
Bayer and Johnson & Johnson will share the settlement expense. Neither company admitted liability, and they’ll continue to manufacture and market the drug.
What to Do If You Suspect Xarelto Injury or Death
If you or a loved one experienced serious, uncontrollable bleeding while taking Xarelto, you deserve to receive compensation. The personal injury attorneys at Monsour Law firm have extensive experience in pursuing justice for patients who experienced pain and loss because of drug manufacturers’ negligence. We’ll give you a free case review and recommend a course of action when you schedule a consultation today.