Publication Date: May 8, 2015
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Amid growing concerns about the link between the blood-thinner Xarelto (rivaroxaban) to dangerous bleeding risks, a new serious side effect of the drug is coming to the forefront: post-surgical infections that could send people back into the hospital.

Attorney Ellen Relkin of New York-based law firm Weitz & Luxenberg joins us on this week’s episode of Drugwatch Podcast to explain what makes Xarelto dangerous and why patients and their families are filing lawsuits.

Bayer and Johnson & Johnson’s blockbuster drug jumped to the front of the pack of all blood thinners in its class, including Pradaxa and Eliquis, with sales that last year exceeded $1 billion. And the drug makers announced late in 2014 they would begin studies in the hopes of widening the approved uses for the medication.

But while the drug proved effective at preventing blood clots, it also raised concerns in the medical community for an increased risk of uncontrolled bleeds and the lack of an antidote.

Now orthopedic surgeons across the country are noticing patients who use the drug after hip or knee replacement surgery may not heal correctly following surgery and tend to have higher rates of wound leakage and infections.

“A study was presented to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, and it showed a significant increase in these deep surgical site infections among Xarelto patients. It’s much greater than a 10-fold risk. Many orthopedic surgeons are avoiding the drug now, but some of them are still using it,” Relkin told Drugwatch. “There are safer, equally or more effective ways to prevent clots following a hip or knee arthroplasty.”

Bayer and J&J face more than 400 federal cases currently consolidated before Judge Eldon E. Fallon in New Orleans and a collection of cases in Philadelphia mass tort court. Complaints filed by patients and surviving family members say the drug caused uncontrolled bleeding and they were not warned.

Relkin has practiced at Weitz & Luxenberg for more than 18 years – and has more than 30 years of litigation experience. She focuses on drug and medical device product liability as well as toxic torts where people have been exposed to dangerous toxins and chemicals.

  • $1 billion dollar settlement in litigation against Stryker related to its Rejunevate and ABG II hip implants
  • $2.5 billion settlement against Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy unit for the ASR hip implant
  • $13.5 million against Merck in Vioxx litigation