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As many as 1.5 million prescriptions of the drug given to NHS patients in the UK - Xarelto has been linked to one death every week with serious side effects include internal bleeding, and bleeds on the brain amid allegations of a "cover up".
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We're acting for patients bringing claims for compensation arising from the use of Xarelto, also known as Rivaroxaban.
There can be serious side-effects from taking the anti-stroke medication jointly-manufactured by pharmaceutical giants Bayer and Johnson & Johnson.
Serious allegations have been made about an alleged "cover-up" where key information about side-effects was reportedly not adequately relayed to health authorities.
Medical professionals remain sceptical about the drug's safety in light of the findings, where serious side-effects, including bleeds on the brain and general internal bleeding, have been linked to patient deaths.
The understanding is that 'all medications come with side-effects' - but it's about pharmaceutical companies knowing those side-effects, managing the side-effects appropriately and acknowledging how to deal with them.
The allegations already made against Bayer in the case of Xarelto is that the side-effects were known to the manufacturers, but were allegedly "covered up". Statistics appear to show that you are three times more likely to suffer from side-effects, and patients are three times more likely to suffer fatal injuries as a result of using the medication.
Studies have shown problems as far back as 2008
Investigations have revealed high numbers of patients suffering side-effects, with the drug being linked to one death a week. Studies have shown problems as far back as 2008.
The anti-coagulant medication was supposed to outshine its main competitors - like Warfarin, as one famous example - because patients shouldn't need regular blood tests that are often demanded with other medications used for preventing strokes. On top of that, Xarelto is not supposed to be as inconvenient as its competitor drugs, because you don't need to watch your food and drink intake in the same way you do with others, and the medication shouldn't cause comparative problems when taking other medication with it.
These are the sorts of unique selling points and major positives the manufacturers boasted Xarelto has when compared to what else is on the market. Its success has been phenomenal, with sales mounting to £17bn worldwide.
A reportedly high number of patient deaths have been linked to the use of Xarelto. On top of that, a reportedly high number of cases of internal bleeding – which can include bleeds on the brain – have also raised concerns.
People are lucky to be alive
Patients we're representing for claims have fallen ill and been rushed to hospital for treatment (like blood transfusions) as a result of internal bleeding.
Some people are lucky to be alive today.
For patients who tragically passed away due to deaths allegedly linked to use of the Xarelto medication, families are also bringing claims.
This case has already been likened to the blood-thinner Pradaxa class action which saw half a billion dollars paid in compensation to victims. In early 2019, the U.S. legal action settled for $775m with both Bayer AG and Johnson & Johnson agreeing to pay damages without any admission of liability.
It can be 'standard' in these sorts of cases for the manufacturer to defend the action all the way to the brink of a trial before eventually agreeing to pay compensation to victims.
Very rarely do they ever formally admit liability though; they just pay out and move on. That's what Bayer and J&J have done in the U.S. Xarelto class action.
In this case, we have an added complexity of the alleged "cover up" involving manufacturer Bayer's partner, Janssen Pharmaceutica. According to papers obtained by German media, critical information about the side-effects of using Xarelto was hidden from medical authorities. There were apparently some test devices used in the lead up to the drug's approval which were found to be defective. As a result of this allegation, Xarelto may have achieved comparatively more positive scores in terms of side-effects and the risk of bleeding.
Of course, any allegations of a "cover up" are being robustly denied; but this isn't the first time where the organisation responsible for the problems has tried to hide their failings.
We have touched on this above - there is rarely any such thing as a medication that doesn’t have any side-effects whatsoever.
Xarelto is a blood thinner, so some risks of bleeding can be acknowledged; but the issue here is that the key selling point of this medication is that you don't need to take the extra precautions you do with other blood thinners. The marketing of Xarelto looks to hit the line of this being the drug that means you don't have to worry about what you eat, or what else you're taking, or worry about routine blood tests.
A so-called "hassle free drug" has turned in to a "killer"
With other mediation, the routine blood tests can be every few weeks, which is far from ideal.
But this so-called "hassle free drug" has reportedly turned in to a "killer" when taking into account the number of deaths reportedly related to its use.
So, this raises a few questions:
Some experts have already suggested that the risk of the side-effects could be down to individual health traits.
One of the key questions posed by medical professionals is that the medication could be prescribed with antidote medication to counter possible side-effects. However, in the absence of any recognition of there being a problem, this doesn't appear to be happening.
On top of that, there may not even be an adequate antidote to take with it.
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