Eliquis is a blood-thinning medication that cannot be easily deactivated in a bleeding emergency. Drug-makers are now facing lawsuits for failing to adequately warn about the risk of severe, uncontrollable bleeding and death.
What is Eliquis?
Eliquis (apixaban) is a blood-thinning medication that is made by Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squib and was approved by the FDA in 2012. Eliquis helps prevent strokes in people with atrial fibrillation, which is a type of irregular heartbeat that can cause blood clots to form inside the heart. If the clot breaks loose, it can travel to the brain and cause a stroke.
How Does Eliquis Work?
Eliquis works by inhibiting thrombin, an enzyme that blood cells need to stick together and form clots. Because Eliquis changes the chemistry of a patient’s blood, there is no fast way to reverse its blood-thinning effects. Not even dialysis can remove it from the bloodstream.
What is the problem?
The problem is that bleeding is the most common serious side effect of Eliquis, but there was no antidote when Eliquis was approved. If a doctor cannot stop the bleeding, the patient can develop far more serious complications or bleed to death.
Eliquis Bleeding Risks
- Internal bleeding
- Bleeding on the brain (cerebral hemorrhage)
- Intestinal bleeding
- Kidney bleeding
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
- Pulmonary embolism
- And more
Is Eliquis Better Than Warfarin?
In comparison, warfarin can easily be reversed with a dose of Vitamin K. Warfarin has also been on the market since the 1950s and emergency physicians have the most experience stopping bleeding in these patients.
Even so, marketing materials promote Eliquis as superior to warfarin because it has “less major bleeding than warfarin” and there is “no routine blood testing.”
However, these ads do not mention what happens to patients when major bleeding does occur. Furthermore, many experts say high-risk patients could benefit from routine blood-testing — especially if they are over 75 years old, frail, or have kidney problems.
FDA Delayed Approval Due to Fraud in Chinese Clinical Trials
The FDA delayed approving Eliquis for nine months after finding major problems at a Chinese-run clinical trial that was supposed to compare deaths from Eliquis vs. warfarin, Bloomberg reports. At least one death was never reported, other “serious adverse events” were concealed, and records were falsified after the FDA announced it would inspect the trial site in Shanghai. Click here to read more.
Eliquis has only been on the market since 2012, but experts are already concerned about its serious bleeding risks. Lawsuits accuse drug-makers of failing to adequately warn about bleeding side effects.