With a blood thinner market estimated at over $6 billion per year, three manufacturers have been fighting it out to get their drugs – Pradaxa, Xarelto and Eliquis – prescribed to as many patients as possible.
Never mind that these drugs have been linked to serious internal bleeding and death; or that, to this day, thousands of lawsuits have been filed and billions of dollars will be paid out to victims. The makers are determined to increase their market share by any means necessary.
How this impacts us as patients is determined in large part by what medications are prescribed by doctors. And, while we assume they are unbiased and always act in our best interest, that may not be the case.
Consumer Laws Require Medical Payout Reports
Fortunately, laws like The Sunshine Act require drug companies to report how much soft money they’re paying to doctors for things like promotions, speaking, consulting, travel, meals, gifts and royalties.
And, lucky for us, consumer watchdogs like ProPublica are there to keep a yearly tab of how much the big drug companies pay out to promote each drug with their Dollars for Docs database.
The results, while not shocking, are worrisome. None of the drugs at the top of the spending list are cures for serious diseases. Rather, they are elective medications that have great competition from other brands. And two of the top five meds for doctor payouts are blood thinners Xarelto and Eliquis.
Xarelto & Eliquis Top List for Doctor Payouts
Xarelto-maker Johnson & Johnson spent the most of any other brand in 2015, with $28.4 million paid to doctors for non-research type activities. In 5th place was Bristol-Myers Squibb, who paid $18.8 million to doctors to promote its blood thinner Eliquis.
With these huge payouts, it is no wonder Xarelto has become the number-one-selling brand of anticoagulant, with nearly 7 million prescriptions each year. Also gaining fast are Pradaxa and Eliquis, with around 2.3 million prescriptions each per year.
Originally approved just to prevent strokes in patients with the heart condition atrial fibrillation, the makers of these three meds have fought for more and more approved uses. Now, they can be prescribed as a preventative for blood clots in numerous situations.
Hundreds of Millions Paid Out to Bleeding Victims
The trouble is that, in many cases, patients develop intestinal or brain bleeding while taking these drugs that requires lengthy hospitalization or can even lead to death. And, while older drugs like warfarin has antidotes to stop emergency internal bleeding, these drugs are only now trying to develop antidotes, after tens of thousands of bleeding injuries or deaths.
If your doctor prescribes Xarelto, Pradaxa or Eliquis, it is important to ask if they have a financial relationship with the manufacturer. Also, research the safety of the drug to determine if there may be a safer alternative.
Most importantly, if you or a loved one have suffered serious internal bleeding while taking Xarelto, Pradaxa or Eliquis, you should talk with a lawyer about your rights, and your options for joining in the lawsuits and settlements.
For more information on blood thinner medications, or to speak directly with a lawyer at no cost, contact DrugNews today.
Helfand, C. J&J's Xarelto, AbbVie's Humira shelled out most on doc payments last year. FiercePharma. (December 14, 2016). Retrieved from www.fiercepharma.com
Jones, R. Dollars for Docs: How Industry Money Reaches Physicians. ProPublica. (December 13, 2016). Retrieved from www.propublica.org
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