Pradaxa is a prescription drug taken by many as a blood thinner (anticoagulant). This blood-thinning medication lowers the chance of blood clots forming in the body. It is commonly used for individuals who have an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation (AFib) when it not caused by a problem in the heart valve.
This anti-clotting medicine was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in October of 2010 as a new replacement of warfarin which is also used to treat patients with atrial fibrillation. Since then it has been discovered that individuals taking Pradaxa have an increased risk of dangerous hemorrhages, serious internal bleeding, and even death. Unlike warfarin, an antidote does not exist to reverse the blood-thinning effects of Pradaxa.
According to Dr. Bryan A. Cotton, a trauma surgeon in Houston, he had heard little about this anticoagulant until people started coming to the emergency room after its use. Pradaxa has contributed to eight bleeding deaths at his hospital. Not only has the approval process of this dangerous drug been a concern to the medical community and victims’ families, but Pradaxa has contributed to more than 500 deaths in the United States. More than 100 lawsuits have been filed as result of the dangerous side effects of using Pradaxa and lawyers expect thousands more suits to be filed in the future.
Boehringer Ingelheim, a privately held German pharmaceutical company, is the drug maker of Pradaxa and had earned more than $1 billion in sales off of this single drug. According to statements by Boehringer Ingelheim, the drug is still safe and there have been reports of doctors not being cautious enough when prescribing Pradaxa to patients, particularly the elderly and those with kidney issues. The company recommends that doctors perform the appropriate testing of patients’ kidney functions prior to prescribing Pradaxa and develop an increased awareness of age in patients.
Critics encourage better disclosure or limited use of Pradaxa until at least an antidote is discovered.