The blood-thinning pill Xarelto is supposed to prevent blood clots. Unfortunately, recent studies suggest that life-threatening blood clots are actually a common complication, especially for hip or knee surgery patients.
What is Xarelto?
For over 50 years, there was only one blood-thinner on the market: warfarin, a problematic drug that required frequent blood-tests to adjust dosage. In July 2011, the FDA approved Xarelto, a once-daily pill that was developed by Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Bayer HealthCare.
The FDA originally approved Xarelto to prevent blood clots in patients following orthopedic surgery (hip or knee replacements). The FDA expanded approval of Xarelto in November 2011 to include atrial fibrillation, which is a type of heart “flutter” that can cause blood clots, stroke, and death.
Xarelto and Blood Clots
Xarelto is often prescribed as a prophylaxis to prevent blood clots. Unfortunately, there is a growing amount of evidence linking it to an increased risk of blood clots.
According to a report published by the Institute for Safe Medicine Practices (ISMP) in October 2012, Xarelto was associated with 356 serious, disabling, or fatal injuries during the first quarter of 2012. The investigators specifically warned about the risk of blood clots:
“The largest identifiable category was serious blood-clot-related injury — most frequently pulmonary embolism — the very events rivaroxaban is intended to prevent. … These thromboembolic events with rivaroxaban occurred in younger patients (median age 66 years).”
Complications of Blood Clots
Hip or knee implant patients usually have limited mobility for weeks or months after surgery. While they remain in a hospital bed or wheelchair, they are more likely to develop blood clots in the legs, also known as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).
DVT is life-threatening because small pieces of a blood clot can break loose, travel in the bloodstream, and get trapped in vital organs (especially the heart, lungs, and brain). This can cause a heart attack, pulmonary embolism, or stroke.
Xarelto is prescribed as a prophylaxis for blood clot complications. If it fails to protect against blood clots or increases the risk of clots, patients could potentially suffer a life-threatening complication, such as:
- Venous thrombosis
- Pulmonary embolism
- Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
- Redness, swelling, warmth, and pain in legs
- Circulatory problems
- Heart attack
- Permanent disability
- Organ failure