Studies Reveal New Risks Associated with Blood-Thinners Like Xarelto and Eliquis

According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), blood-thinning medications like Xarelto and Eliquis may increase the risk of hematuria-related complications. Hematuria occurs when blood is found in the urine, and related complications may include emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and urologic procedures.
Plaintiffs have filed thousands of lawsuits against the manufacturers of these blood-thinning drugs, claiming that they failed to provide adequate warnings about the risks. Most have suffered from severe bleeding, often in the gastrointestinal tract or in the brain.

Study Links Blood-Thinning Medications Like Xarelto with Hematuria-Related Complications

For the JAMA study, researchers reviewed data from about 800,0000 patients who had received at least one prescription for a blood-thinning drug between 2002 and 2014. They found that 124 out of 1,000 of them suffered from hematuria-related complications, versus 80 per 1,000 of those not exposed to these drugs. They also found that participants taking the drugs were more likely to be diagnosed with bladder cancer within six months of starting a prescription.
Hematuria-related problems may require imaging tests and invasive treatments. The researchers noted some variations depending on which medication the patients used, but found an association between all of the medications they examined and hematuria-related complications. “Patients and physicians need to discuss this,” said lead author Dr. Robert Nam, “to try and prevent patients having to be hospitalized or come to the emergency room in the middle of the night.”

Study Shows Increased Risk When Blood Thinners Used Together with Other Medications

Other studies have found that these drugs can increase the risk of certain side effects that patients and their doctors need to be aware of. In another recent JAMA study, researchers analyzed data from over 91,000 patients with atrial fibrillation who were prescribed one of these blood-thinners. They found a significant increase in excessive bleeding when the blood-thinning drugs were used in combination with other drugs—namely, amiodarone, fluconazole, rifampin, and phenytoin.
The blood-thinning drugs also reduced the effectiveness of atorvastatin, digoxin, and erythromycin or clarithromycin. Researchers were especially concerned about atorvastatin (Lipitor), because it is a commonly prescribed drug, particularly in combination with a blood-thinning drug.
Ongoing litigation against the manufacturers of Xarelto and Eliquis are pending in federal court in Louisiana and New York, respectively.