The prescription drug Pradaxa is used to reduce the chances of stroke in people suffering from non-valvular atrial fibrillation, or AFib. AFib is a highly common heart arrhythmia that may result in palpitations and heart failure, but often shows no symptoms until it is too late. It can raise the likelihood of a stroke by up to seven times, and may also cause fainting, so it can be swiftly fatal for those that suffer with it. Unfortunately, this medication comes with serious side effects of its own, some of which are capable of causing fatalities.
Pradaxa is the trade name for the drug Dabigatran. Dabigatran shuts off the blood’s ability to coagulate by inhibiting the enzyme thrombin. This protein is an essential part of the blood clotting response when the body suffers injury or hematoma, and it synthesizes another protein called fibrin. This protein, when chained together into polymer form, acts like a mesh that clumps blood cells together. Normally, this is essential to preventing massive blood loss during injury or trauma, but can be problematic when the body is having issues directing the clotting response.
Dabigatran shuts this enzyme down, preventing the mesh-like structures in the cardiovascular system from forming. While this may prevent clotting from blocking flow in the arteries and veins, Pradaxa does it in a way that can cause severe complications.
Chief among these complications is excessive bleeding, which is a result of the blood being thinned out by the Dabigatran. One in 10 patients will suffer this to some degree while taking the drug, and while it causes fewer instances of excessive blood loss than similar medications, it is more likely to cause hemorrhaging in the GI than any other inhibitor. This is particularly common in people over the age of 75, as is severe extracranial bleeding. The Food and Drug Association has confirmed these findings, and has stated that Pradaxa is more likely to cause these issues than other blood thinners. The manufacturer of the medication, Boehringer Ingelheim, claims that 260 people died from complications due to the drug between March of 2008 and October of 2011. The FDA warning is even more important for people who have kidney issues or have stomach ulcers, or those that take other medications like aspirin that may thin out the blood.
It can be difficult to determine if the medication is causing any adverse effects, but there are a few symptoms to look out for that may signal internal complications. These include regular nose bleeds, coughing up blood, red or black stools, discolored urine or heavy menstrual bleeding. A user should keep a close eye on these, because it is difficult to test for the amount of Pradaxa in a person’s system.
Anyone who has taken this drug and experienced severe bleeding or other complications from it should contact a drug injury lawyer as soon as possible. It can be difficult for someone to attain restitution from a powerful pharmaceutical company, but an expert familiar with the industry can be a valuable ally. For the victim, a lawyer will level the playing field and help the injured party gather all of the information needed to put together a solid case.