Brilinta Side Effects Cause Patients to Stop Taking Drug: Study

A new study suggests that many patients are unable to tolerate Brilinta, a new blood thinner by AstraZeneca, and often discontinue use of the medication.  

Researchers from the Netherlands presented their findings at the European Society of Cardiology, indicating that patients are quitting treatment primarily due to Brilinta side effects, which can include breathlessness and other problems.

The study involved 367 patients, with researchers finding that about 14% of the patients stopped taking the drug prematurely or switched to an alternative treatment due to dyspnea. The study was conducted by Dr. Thomas Bergmejier of the St. Antonius Hospital Nieuwegein

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An earlier study, known as PLATO, used 18,000 patients and had a lower rate of discontinuation, but AstraZeneca says that the rate found by the latest study is similar to discontinuations of Plavix, the blood thinner Brilinta was designed to compete against. However, the label indicates that dyspnea was reported more frequently in Brilinta than with Plavix.

Brilinta (ticagrelor) is a type of blood thinner known as a platelet aggregation inhibitor. It was developed by AstraZeneca and approved by the FDA in July 2011. It carries a black box warning for bleeding risks, similar to that of other blood thinners.

The makers of Plavix, the primary competitor for Brilinta, face increasing litigation over the safety and effectiveness of the medication, alleging that insufficient warnings have been provided to consumers and the medical community about the potential side effects of Plavix.

The Plavix lawsuits allege that the blockbuster medication was promoted as a safer alternative to aspirin, although it may actually provide no benefit over taking a four-cent-a-day aspirin. Plaintiffs allege that they suffered injuries as a result of their unnecessary use of Plavix, such as gastrointestinal bleeding, severe ulcers, heart attacks, strokes and a rare blood disorder known as TTP, or thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpora.

Plaintiffs allege that the drug makers repeatedly overstated the safety and effectiveness of Plavix, and point out that the companies were repeatedly cited by the FDA for illegal, off-label promotions and for ads and campaigns that touted its benefits over aspirin and how safe it was for the stomach; both claims that the FDA said were unproven, and that several scientific studies brought into doubt.

19 Comments

  • LouisJune 3, 2022 at 12:39 pm

    I had a Stent placed 3 months ago and was given brylinta during the procedure. Woke up struggling to catch my breath and feeling very scared. Was finally released but returned to er by paramedics later that same night. After one week of agony I convinced doc to switch meds to Plavix; symptoms improved over the next week. Improved, but not eliminated. I still get winded with slightest exerti[Show More]I had a Stent placed 3 months ago and was given brylinta during the procedure. Woke up struggling to catch my breath and feeling very scared. Was finally released but returned to er by paramedics later that same night. After one week of agony I convinced doc to switch meds to Plavix; symptoms improved over the next week. Improved, but not eliminated. I still get winded with slightest exertion. Sometimes cannot sleep due to apprehension about my breathing. I am worse off now than I was before the heart attack. Has anyone else experienced this? Louis

  • DebraFebruary 10, 2022 at 8:40 am

    My mother had a stent procedure after a heart attack and was prescribed Brilinta. One day several weeks later she started having a fainting spell. I took her to the ER and her hemoglobin was very low and her stool was positive for blood. She couldn't stand up alone. She was admitted . I returned the next morning , as I approached her bed she vomited a huge amount of blood with large clots. She [Show More]My mother had a stent procedure after a heart attack and was prescribed Brilinta. One day several weeks later she started having a fainting spell. I took her to the ER and her hemoglobin was very low and her stool was positive for blood. She couldn't stand up alone. She was admitted . I returned the next morning , as I approached her bed she vomited a huge amount of blood with large clots. She passed that day in the evening.

  • teresaJuly 22, 2021 at 10:38 pm

    I have been taking brilinta for6 months . This past week I have had horrible diarrhea. I take 90 mgs of brilinta twice a day. I am66 yrs. old and have gone through menopause .I also take lisinopril, metoprolol tartrate, synthroid and an 81 mg baby aspirin. I am short of breath and now can't leave the bathroom! How do I stop the diarrhea?

  • RonJanuary 26, 2020 at 12:34 am

    On December 27, 2019, I was hospitalized overnight by my cardiologist for a stent procedure for a blockage on one side of my heart. I am 70 years old. I was immediately placed on Brilinta 90mg twice daily with aspirin. Almost immediately I began suffering very severe diarrhea and painful intestinal gas making it very difficult to sleep and almost impossible to travel in a vehicle any distance. [Show More]On December 27, 2019, I was hospitalized overnight by my cardiologist for a stent procedure for a blockage on one side of my heart. I am 70 years old. I was immediately placed on Brilinta 90mg twice daily with aspirin. Almost immediately I began suffering very severe diarrhea and painful intestinal gas making it very difficult to sleep and almost impossible to travel in a vehicle any distance. Several times during the day I have actually not been able to make it to the toilet as the the feeling of the need to relieve myself comes on extremely quickly. I also take metformin for type II diabetes which also causes diarrhea at times so at first I thought there was a drug interaction. At any rate, I called my doctor's office this past week and told them this condition was getting unbearable so they have put me on a Plavix generic after tomorrow. I should know if this condition continues to persist with the new drug after another week or so.

  • judyJanuary 5, 2019 at 8:02 pm

    I had 3 stents put in October 18, 2018, started Brilinta. Short of breath so asked to switch to Plavix after 6 weeks. Noticed wheezing upper respiratory before Christmas. To ER Dec 28th with severe wheezing and SOB, Q of MI, home Jan 3 2019. Still wheezing and very SOB! Is this related to Brilinta? Not the flu, way worse than a cold.

  • VinJanNovember 24, 2017 at 12:40 am

    I had a heart attack in Jan 2017 and then in October 2017. I had a stent put in Jan. Started on Plavix but had to stop because allergic. I then took nothing but my Coreg and aspirin for 10 months. Now I am on Brilinta and have two bad side effects. Bad shortness of breath at times and intestinal bleeding containing clots and mucus. I go to my cardiologist next Wednesday I am going to stop t[Show More]I had a heart attack in Jan 2017 and then in October 2017. I had a stent put in Jan. Started on Plavix but had to stop because allergic. I then took nothing but my Coreg and aspirin for 10 months. Now I am on Brilinta and have two bad side effects. Bad shortness of breath at times and intestinal bleeding containing clots and mucus. I go to my cardiologist next Wednesday I am going to stop taking Brilinta one way or another. It is a very dangerous and expensive drug. My condolences to the young man who lost his mother. There have got to be cheaper and safer drugs on the market to help cardiac patients. Please if you have any reaction stop the drug and call your doctor or the hospital er in your town. It could save your life.

  • EricSeptember 26, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    My Mom died from taking this drug and nobody is willing to do anything. So far no law firm has contacted us.

  • TudvalSeptember 21, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    '@Linda I asked my cardiologist about dental surgery and he did not think there would be any problem, I wouldn't have to discontinue Brilinta. However, since the tooth that had to be pulled in my case had a root canal done and was not causing me discomfort, I preferred to wait for a few more months. You should ask your doctor, of course, but I read the second generation DES only require you to be [Show More]'@Linda I asked my cardiologist about dental surgery and he did not think there would be any problem, I wouldn't have to discontinue Brilinta. However, since the tooth that had to be pulled in my case had a root canal done and was not causing me discomfort, I preferred to wait for a few more months. You should ask your doctor, of course, but I read the second generation DES only require you to be on blood thinners for 6 months, so after that time, it's probably not that much of a risk to can go off them for a few days.

  • LindaSeptember 15, 2017 at 11:46 pm

    I had a stent put in 2 months ago and am on Brilinta, Crestor, baby aspirin. They started me on Lipitor and I had leg pain so bad I couldn't sleep at night so after a couple of weeks they switched me to Crestor. I'm still having some leg pain, but nothing like I experienced with Lipitor. I have a real problem now because I just lost a filling 2 days ago and after taking an x-ray my dentist told[Show More]I had a stent put in 2 months ago and am on Brilinta, Crestor, baby aspirin. They started me on Lipitor and I had leg pain so bad I couldn't sleep at night so after a couple of weeks they switched me to Crestor. I'm still having some leg pain, but nothing like I experienced with Lipitor. I have a real problem now because I just lost a filling 2 days ago and after taking an x-ray my dentist told me I have a cracked tooth and need to have my tooth pulled...it can't be filled. The oral surgeon requires that I go off the Brilinta and aspirin before the surgery and I can't do that. I have a call in to my cardiologist but this is kind of freaking me out. Anybody else ever have to have dental work done since you've been on blood thinners?

  • mattJuly 26, 2017 at 6:26 pm

    taken off Plavix may, 2016 and put on brilinta. due to heart attack. Had another heart attack feb, 2017. stayed on brilinta. doctor just said to stop taking brilinta and back on Plavix. had shortness of breath and skin peeling off bottom of feet.

  • suzanneJuly 8, 2017 at 2:34 am

    been on 90mg for a year and a half and 8 months ago began having diarrhea 5 x a day so asked if i could take the 60 mg and started on that a week ago and still have diarrhea. it may be isosorbide, but am thinking of changing to plavix. does anyone else have diarrhea ?

  • ToddJuly 1, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    Had 2 stents put in over a week ago - doctor prescribed Lipitor, Brilinta, metoprolol, and aspirin. I also take a CoQ10. So far, no negative side effects whatsoever...feeling great.

  • CharlotteMarch 22, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    After reading this I am scared to take This Brilinta today is my first day help me please

  • joeNovember 8, 2016 at 4:18 am

    Diddo...Wake up many times at night drowning and can,t breathe (scary) extremely itchy and if I scratch I start bleeding.

  • RogerSeptember 5, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    After having a Stent put in I was prescribed Brilinta. I Immediately began experiencing extreme shortness of breath (especially when lying down or trying to sleep). I am waking up 11 - 17 times per night (as measured by my FITNESS BLAZE fitness tracker as well as my own observations). I would wake up feeling like I was drowning and gasping for breath. I also experienced dizziness and some confus[Show More]After having a Stent put in I was prescribed Brilinta. I Immediately began experiencing extreme shortness of breath (especially when lying down or trying to sleep). I am waking up 11 - 17 times per night (as measured by my FITNESS BLAZE fitness tracker as well as my own observations). I would wake up feeling like I was drowning and gasping for breath. I also experienced dizziness and some confusion and trouble concentrating. Neither of which I had prior to taking Brilinta. I also experienced intermittent bouts of what I can only describe as Hot Flashes (I am a male) where I would be sitting down watching TV in the air conditioning and suddenly begin burning up from the inside out and sweating buckets of perspiration soaking through my hair and shirt. These incidents last about 2 minutes and occur once or twice a night. One other side effect that I have experienced is extreme drying, cracking and splitting open of the skin on my hands, feet and ears. I put lotion on them nightly but by morning they are the same again. My skin was so dry that it was peeling off in 2' long strips leaving bare, raw skin underneath. The condition is similar to what I experienced on my hands after accidentally spilling some Muriatic Acid on the palms of my hands (when I was etching some concrete) and the resulting after effects. Of these side effects, the only ones that are severely effecting me is the extreme shortness of breath and dizziness. I live in a quad level house with four flights of stairs with concrete and tile floors, so feeling as if I am going to pass out while climbing stairs could be dangerous for me. If I stumble and fall and hit my head on a solid slate tile floor laid over a concrete base bashing my head open and bleeding would be very dangerous for me (I live alone). I have been on Brilinta a little over two months now and these side effects are (if anything) worse now than when I first began taking the medication. I am going to try to convince my Cardiologist to switch me to some other medication.

  • AllenApril 13, 2016 at 8:47 pm

    After taking for 1 1/2 days, my hands were covered in What looked like Blood Blisters accompanied by severe swelling to the point that I could not feed myself. I refused the 4th dose of Brilinta, whereupon the spread stopped. As they healed, where the lesions were remained bare flesh, which remains to be a problem with using my hands. We do have photos to back our claim.

  • EricFebruary 3, 2016 at 7:32 am

    My mom had a stent procedure on 11/23/2015 and that day was given a Brilinta blood thinner medication as it was ordered by the doctor, next day 11/24/2015 my mom was discharged from hospital completely healthy, after going home she took another Brilinta pill around 11pm as she was ordered to do so. Fifteen minute after taking doctor given Brilinta medication, She had a severe headache and she st[Show More]My mom had a stent procedure on 11/23/2015 and that day was given a Brilinta blood thinner medication as it was ordered by the doctor, next day 11/24/2015 my mom was discharged from hospital completely healthy, after going home she took another Brilinta pill around 11pm as she was ordered to do so. Fifteen minute after taking doctor given Brilinta medication, She had a severe headache and she start vomiting and she went into coma, after admitted to the hospital she was declared brain dead, she passed away on 11/29/2015, I don’t know if this was a medication or doctors error who prescribe my mom Brilinta but we lost her and it’s very hard on us going through grief. We need some closure.

  • MichaelJune 19, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    I was prescribed brilinta after receiving two stents after about one month I started having severe problems shortness of breath sever weakness paleness nausea and vomiting confusion as well as being extremely lightheaded then the end of April of this year I was rushed to the hospital and after my exam I was told I had acute pancreatitis as well as some of my organs were shutting down all of my lab[Show More]I was prescribed brilinta after receiving two stents after about one month I started having severe problems shortness of breath sever weakness paleness nausea and vomiting confusion as well as being extremely lightheaded then the end of April of this year I was rushed to the hospital and after my exam I was told I had acute pancreatitis as well as some of my organs were shutting down all of my labs were off and I had to have a blood transfusion of two units of whole blood platelets now i have to have more test done because my doctor suspects I may have internal bleeding wow I never thought a drug that was supposed to help may have caused all this

  • RonMay 31, 2015 at 11:23 pm

    After TAVR I was prescribed Brilinta. I also take Warfarin and 81 aspirin.. Soon after returning home for recuperation, I noticed very notable side effects which I assumed due to the procedure. I had significant reduction in breathability, confusion to the point where I actually flooded the bathroom, nose bleeding, elevated back pain and thinking it may be a neurological problem linked to the TAV[Show More]After TAVR I was prescribed Brilinta. I also take Warfarin and 81 aspirin.. Soon after returning home for recuperation, I noticed very notable side effects which I assumed due to the procedure. I had significant reduction in breathability, confusion to the point where I actually flooded the bathroom, nose bleeding, elevated back pain and thinking it may be a neurological problem linked to the TAVR, consulted a neurologist who promptly ordered a MRI. I was convinced that the TAVR had not been successful! After being unable to reach my cardiologist by phone, I took it upon myself to research online. To me, Brilinta is an extremely expensive drug. My condition at this point made it very difficult to manage cardiac rehab as well as I needed to do! I then emailed my cardiologist requesting his advice on a return to Plavix which I had taken previously for some considerable time with little problem. I am awaiting that decision. To my thinking; I may have gone through considerable time doubting the benefits of the surgery when my problems were due to Brilinta!

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