When a physician prescribes a prescription medication to a patient, there is an inherent trust present. Patients begin to take the medication, in spite of the side effects, such as a pulmonary embolism, because they are convinced that it is the only option for recovery or relief. However, reports indicate that Xarelto, a blood thinner prescribed to millions of people to prevent the dangerous blood clots that cause strokes, has been over prescribed to patients that do not really need the drug.
As many as 25% of people diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, who are identified as having a low risk of stroke are prescribed blood-thinning drugs they likely don’t need, and which may cause devastating side effects. A study reported information from nearly 11,000 atrial fibrillation patients within the United States, who are younger than 60 considered to have a low risk of stroke.
Xarelto and Pulmonary Embolism
Xarelto (rivaroxaban) is an FXa inhibitor prescribed by medical professionals for the prevention of deep vein thrombosis which may lead to pulmonary embolism in patients undergoing knee or hip replacement surgery. One such side effect experienced by patients who are prescribed a regiment of Xarelto is pulmonary embolism, the very condition that it is designed to prevent.
Pulmonary embolism occurs when a blood clot, that typically travels from the leg, continues to the lungs and causes a sudden blockage in the lung artery. Pulmonary embolism is a very dangerous condition and may result in the following:
- Damage portions of the lung permanently resulting from a lack of blood flow to lung tissue. Prolonged damage may lead to increased pressure in the pulmonary arteries.
- Low oxygen levels in the blood.
- Damage caused to other organs in your body resulting from a lack of oxygen.
- Large clots or numerous clots may result in death.
Has Xarelto Been Taken Off The Market?
Xarelto was FDA approved in 2011 as an alternative to warfarin and as a treatment for stroke. It is also approved as a preventative measure for patients suffering from nonvalvular atrial fibrillation. Although the Food and Drug Administration has issued numerous safety warnings, including two black box warnings, Xarelto, a drug that is known to cause many health complications, including pulmonary embolism, has not been removed from the market. A black box warning is the highest level of warning issued by the FDA with respect to a drug. When the FDA issues these warnings, it means that “reasonable evidence” of a hazard exists.
Clinical trials mainly include a selected patient population with lower-risk patients. Although patients with higher risk conditions were also included in these trials, real-life experience will need to accumulate in order to better delineate high risk candidates for treatment with the different available medications.
Should I Keep Using Xarelto?
A study published by the NIH indicated that only a small fraction of patients were treated entirely with rivaroxaban
from the first treatment dose and that the efficacy and safety findings only apply to treatment in low-risk patients. Furthermore, current evidence does not support a role for rivaroxaban in the initial treatment of high-risk patients experiencing massive pulmonary embolism. The study recommended that in many cases, oral Xarelto should be withheld until improvement of the patient’s clinical condition is realized.
Xarelto is also unsafe for the treatment of pulmonary embolism in pregnant patients, and for patients with significant hepatic or end-stage renal disease. Future studies were recommended by the study.