Johnson & Johnson’s drug newest blood thinner Xarelto is being embraced by doctors and surgeons as the easier and friendlier go-to anticoagulant drug. In the third quarter, Xarelto’s sales jumped to $414 million and the total sales to $1.09 billion. Xarelto’s popularity comes at a steep price, however, as more and more harmful side effects come to light.
Xarelto was approved by the FDA in 2011. As an anticoagulant, its job is to reduce a patient’s risk of deep vein thrombosis (blood clots) or strokes. Xarelto is popular amongst doctors because it is considered easier to dose and prescribe. However, there is no cure/antidote or ability to reverse the blood thinning effects of Xarelto. If treatment is not carefully managed or the patient is not monitored closely, they can suffer from life-threatening bleeding after even the most harmful of injuries.
Prior to the recent JAMA Internal Medicine study, the most serious known side effects of Xarelto involved gastrointestinal bleeding, brain bleeding, rectal bleeding, other trauma-induced bleeding, headaches, dizziness, and easy bruising. It can also cause serious blood clots around the brain if a patient is undergoing a spinal tap or receiving spinal anesthesia. It also can cause uncontrollable bleeding around other major organs like the kidney, brain, and lungs. The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) reported this past spring an increasing number of serious adverse reactions associated with Xarelto. Most of the Xarelto cases involved severe blood clots forming in younger patients who were prescribed the drug after hip or knee replacement surgery to reduce the risk of clots.
Xarelto is popular amongst doctors because it is viewed as more convenient for patients and providers in postoperative treatment to prevent dangerous blood clots. Unlike its anticoagulant competitors, it requires only one dose per day, no blood monitoring, and no dietary changes. However, as thefirst lawsuits were filed this past year, and the recent health studies illustrate, Xarelto puts patients at risk of the very dangerous it is meant to prevent (blood clots) in addition to other adverse health effects such as uncontrollable internal bleeding, liver failure, and death.
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