Since being approved in October of 2010, the prescription blood thinning drug, Pradaxa, has established itself as an upgrade to warfarin because it performed the same functions while also preventing strokes. Other competitors to warfarin, such as Xarelto, have also come onto the market. While these drugs netted gigantic profits for their manufacturers and were used by millions of patients, it has been revealed over time that these drugs can pose a serious, and deadly, risk to certain types of people. In May of 2014 alone, Boehringer Ingelheim, the German manufacturer of Pradaxa, settled more than 4,000 lawsuits for a combined amount of $650 million.
Just two years after its introduction, Pradaxa was blamed for over 500 deaths stemming from uncontrollable bleeding and internal hemorrhaging. The aforementioned settlement came under the condition that Boehringer Ingelheim would have to admit to no fault regarding the deaths, stating that the benefits of the drug far outweighed the negative side effects. While the benefits of the drug are certainly evident, should thousands of lawsuits and hundreds of deaths prompt, at the very least, more research, development, and awareness campaigns to ensure that the wrong people don’t take the drug and wind up in dire straits? Pradaxa costs about $3,000 a year and made $209 million in sales just in the first quarter of 2012, so it is not an issue of not having enough money.
What is Pradaxa?
Pradaxa was simply the first drug of its kind – a replacement to warfarin, which was introduced in the mid-1900s. Warfarin thins patients’ blood by decreasing the activity of vitamin K, and requires a strict diet and regular doctor visits throughout its prescription. Pradaxa is a “direct thrombin inhibitor,” meaning it interrupts the function of thrombin in the body, which are proteins that create clotting.
Both warfarin and thrombin inhibitors are used for patients with atrial fibrillation, a condition where an irregular heartbeat causes blood to pool in the upper chamber of the heart. People with atrial fibrillation are about five times more likely to have a stroke, and can lead to other cardiac consequences. The main added benefit of Pradaxa over warfarin is that it reduces the risk overall of suffering a stroke.
Pradaxa is also approved to treat venous thromboembolism – otherwise known as a blood clot that travels to the lungs which can be deadly – after patients undergo knee or hip surgery in Europe but not in the United States. If it gains FDA approval to treat these blood clots, Pradaxa prescriptions are expected to rise.
Be aware of the risks
As with other blood thinning medication, Pradaxa may cause bruising or excessive bleeding from small bumps and cuts. Always tell your physician if you are taking blood thinners. Common side effects of Pradaxa can include indigestion, nausea, heartburn, and stomach pain. Serious side effects can include uncontrollable bleeding, heart attacks, and liver failure, all of which could potentially lead to death. The people most at risk of these serious symptoms are people aged 75 and older, people with existing kidney problems, and people with recent or recurring stomach or intestine bleeding.
Contact us to see if we can help
These medications carry serious risks, and even if you take all the necessary precautions, things can go wrong. The fact that Pradaxa’s drug manufacturer decided to wipe out thousands of lawsuits with one settlement shows how lucrative, yet dangerous this drug truly can be. The wonder of modern medication is a lifesaving godsend for some, but can also lead to the severe harm and even death of others. If you or somebody you love was harmed or killed after taking any kind of blood thinning medication, contact us immediately. Altman & Altman LLP has over 40 years of experience fighting for patients who have been injured by the drugs that were supposed to save their lives.
No case is too challenging and no company is too powerful for us to pursue and secure the compensation that you need and are entitled to. We offer free consultations, 24/7. Call us today at 617-492-3000 or toll-free at 800-481-6199.