Amid Increasing Lawsuits, Eliquis Sales Surpass Xarelto and Pradaxa

Although a growing number of Eliquis lawsuits are being filed in courts nationwide, the controversial blood thinner has become the best-selling member of a new class of novel oral anticoagulant (NOAC) introduced in recent years, surpassing sales of the competing blockbuster drugs Xarelto and Pradaxa, which have also been linked to reports of serious bleeding problems. 

Eliquis was the third member of this new generation of blood thinners to the hit the market, but Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb announced last week that the drug brought in $1.1 billion in sales during the fourth quarter of 2016, with an 8% increase in total prescriptions.

The rising sales come amid reports involving uncontrollable, life-threatening and in some cases fatal bleeding problems among users.

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Eliquis (apixaban), Xarelto (rivaroxoaban) and Praxaxa (dabigatran) have each been competing for the lucrative anticoagulation market, advertising their drugs as superior replacements for Coumadin (warfarin), which has been the go-to treatment for prevention of blood clots among individuals with atrial fibrillation for decades.

While the newer drugs have been aggressively promoted as easier to use, claiming that they do not require the same close monitoring to maintain appropriate dose, concerns have emerged about the safety of the drugs, as thousands of reports suggest that users may experience severe and uncontrollable bleeding problems, since there was no approved reversal agent available at the time they were introduced.

Unlike warfarin, where the blood thinning effects of the drug can be reversed quickly with a dose of vitamin K and fresh frozen plasma if bleeding problems develop, no safe and effective antidote was available for Xarelto, Eliquis or Pradaxa when the drugs hit the market. As a result, many doctors found themselves unable to control or stop bleeding problems that developed among users.

More than 16,000 Xarelto lawsuits are currently pending nationwide, each involving allegations that users and the medical community were not adequately warned about the risk of uncontrollable bleeding. In 2014, a settlement resolved about 4,000 Pradaxa lawsuits, which raised similar claims.

As sales for the third member of this class continue to increase, so have the number of lawsuits filed against Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb over their failure to warn about the potential bleeding side effects of Eliquis.

Given the similar questions of fact and law raised in the lawsuits, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) decided to consolidated the Eliquis litigation earlier this year, centralizing all cases filed throughout the federal court system before U.S. District Judge Denise L. Cote in the Southern District of New York. Following coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings, if Eliquis settlements are not reached to resolve the cases, each of the cases may ultimately remanded be remanded back to U.S. District Courts nationwide for individual trial dates.


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