According to the findings of a new study, one in three ICU (intensive care unit) patients given a new-generation anticoagulant like Pradaxa, Xarelto or Eliquis, may be receiving an inappropriate dose of the medications. In the study, presented at a meeting of the Society of Critical Care Medicine, researchers from Fairleigh Dickinson University School of Pharmacy found that doctors often fail to take into consideration kidney problems that could increase a patient’s risk of suffering uncontrollable bleeding complications, a potentially life-threatening side effect that has been linked to Pradaxa, Xarelto, and similar novel oral anticoagulants (NOACs).
In the study, the researchers found that prescription errors in four of the blood thinner patients occurred because the doctor didn’t take into account problems with kidney function, which could result in serious bleeding events. Many new-generation anticoagulant drugs, like Pradaxa, Xarelto and Eliquis, don’t have approved antidotes to reverse the blood thinning effects of the medications in the event of a bleeding problem, and patients with impaired renal function who take the anticoagulants may not be able to filter the drugs out of the body over time, which increases their risk of uncontrollable bleeding complications.
In addition to the lack of an approved reversal agent for Pradaxa, Xarelto and similar drugs, the fact that the makers of these blood thinners have marketed the medications as requiring less blood monitoring during treatment means doctors may miss the fact that levels of the anticoagulants in patients with renal impairment is high and may put them at risk for uncontrollable bleeding. “Although NOACs do not require routine coagulation monitoring, there is lack of an antidote for reversal in bleeding patients and concerns in dosing of NOACs in renal impairment,” the researchers wrote. “There is a lack of experience with use of NOACs in critically ill patients.”
Most of the patients in the blood thinner study had nonvalvular atrial fibrillation, and were given the drugs as a means of stroke prevention, while others were given anticoagulants to treat problems associated with blood clots. According to some health experts though, doctors can wait long enough to identify any problems with kidney function before prescribing the blood thinners, without putting patients at a significantly increased risk of stroke or other complications while they wait for the test results. If you believe you have suffered from side effects of Xarelto or another potentially dangerous medication, our consumer advocates at the Consumer Justice Foundation can help put you in touch with an experienced drug injury lawyer today.