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Similar to Pradaxa, Xarelto is an oral anticoagulant (blood thinner) used to prevent blood clots from forming due to atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat). Sometimes known as Rivaroxaban, it can also be prescribed after hip or knee replacement surgery, to treat blood clots such as deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism, and to prevent blood clots from forming again. The pill works by blocking certain clotting proteins which are naturally found in the blood.
In a study to examine Xarelto’s safety, 73% of over 16,000 participants who took at least one dose of Xarelto experienced adverse side effects. Some of the more serious side effects included adverse bleeding events. People who took a higher dose of the drug were more likely to suffer from bleeding. Other serious side effects of Xarelto include:
- Abnormal bleeding
- Abnormal liver function
- Brain hemorrhage
- Loss of bladder/bowel control
The risk to patients is increased if they are undergoing a spinal procedure, and the drug can cause paralysis in some cases. Risk is also increased in patients who take other blood thinners, including over the counter types like aspirin.
Xarelto was developed by Bayer and Johnson & Johnson’s New Jersey-based unit, Janssen Pharmaceuticals. One of the biggest problems surrounding the pill is its ability to cause severe, uncontrolled bleeding. When this bleeding occurs near a major organ, such as the brain or lungs, it can damage that organ, cause serious harm to the patient, and in some cases, even lead to death. Since the purpose of Xarelto is to prevent clotting, this bleeding continues until the drug is flushed out of the system.
Xarelto also costs about $3,000 per year, compared with only $200 for warfarin, which also has an emergency antidote in the case of serious bleeding (Xarelto and Pradaxa do not). Xarelto does not require frequent doctor checkups and often carries a uniform one size fits all dosing system, which can contribute to the risk of dangerous side effects.
Patients who took Xarelto and suffered from serious side effects along with the families of those died after taking Xarelto have already filed lawsuits for compensation for medical bills, injuries, and emotional trauma. The lawsuits filed against Bayer and Johnson & Johnson allege that the company failed to warn the public of the dangers of irreversible bleeding and misrepresented the safety and effectiveness of the drug. Those currently involved in litigation allege that the drugmaker continued to sell Xarelto even though they knew it was dangerous.