When the blood-thinning drug Xarelto was released onto the market in 2012, it was touted as revolutionary. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to consumers, it came with a price—potentially fatal bleeding side effects with no antidote. By mid-2013, growing complaints and news reports about the risk of uncontrollable bleeds were becoming wide-spread, yet Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Bayer continued their aggressive marketing campaign, with full knowledge of the potential dangers associated with the anticoagulant.
Now, three years after the drug’s release, a late-stage study into an experimental pharmaceutical developed by Portola Pharmaceuticals may hold the key to the first bleeding antidote for Xarelto. The drug—which, unlike its generic competitor warfarin, has no antidote—continues to be marketed by its manufacturers as a safe and even superior alternative, while severe and sometimes fatal bleeding events continue to be reported from patients who have taken Xarelto.