Many people and their physicians turn to one of two main medications designed to prevent the formation of blood clots, or treat ones that have already developed. These two medications, warfarin and Xarelto are the most commonly used anticoagulants in the United States. But Xarelto lawsuit information suggests one may be safer than the other.
Warfarin was developed by Endo Laboratories in the 1950’s and is sold under the brand names Coumadin and Jantoven. This medication works by preventing the body from using Vitamin K to increase the clotting ability of the blood. Though this is the most widely used anticoagulant, patients who use it are required to be monitored on a regular basis. Physicians adjust warfarin dosages based on the time it takes the patient’s blood to clot. If it takes too long, the patient is at risk for uncontrolled bleeding events.
Xarelto hit the market in 2011 and is a Factor Xa inhibitor. Factor Xa is used by the body to make thrombin, a protein that helps the blood be able to clot. The drug makers found that if they inhibited production of Factor Xa, the blood isn’t able to clot.
Patients who use Xarelto are not required to undergo the intense medical monitoring like patients who use warfarin. However, warfarin has several antidotes and Xarelto doesn’t.
If the clotting ability of the blood is reduced too much, the person can experience life-threatening bleeding events.
Patients who take warfarin and experience a bleed can be treated with reversal agents, or bleeding antidotes like oral, and intravenous doses of Vitamin K, sometimes combined with a prothrombin concentrate for expeditated reversal.
Though Xarelto was marketed as being better than warfarin because of safety, effectiveness, and ease of use, it does have one major drawback: there is no reversal agent to stem uncontrolled bleeding events. This mean if a patient suffers a gastrointestinal bleed, such as from an ulcer, doctors may have no way to control the amount of bleeding.
Sometimes this uncontrolled bleeding can lead to fatal consequences. And the bleeding doesn’t always occur in the stomach or GI tract. Sometimes just banging the head, such as when falling from standing height can cause brain bleeds.
Patients who develop deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism, and those who have an increased risk of develop these conditions have a choice of which medication should be used. Some patients may want warfarin simply because of the increased risk of a fatal bleed due to lack of a reversal agent for Xarelto, while other patients may want the new drug simply because it is easier to use and requires much less monitoring.
If you are at risk of developing potentially fatal or stroke causing clots and your physicians believe you need to be put on a blood thinner, be sure to discuss the pros and cons of each before deciding. Your doctor will weigh various factors when making the decision, including the medications you currently take, your general health, and how much your lifestyle could be affected by either medication.