Preventing a blood clot from causing a stroke sounds like a fantastic innovation that could save thousands, but at what cost? Pradaxa was a prescribed medication that promised delivery on this novel idea, but instead caused life-threatening side effects in some patients who used the drug. The active ingredient in the medication is dabigatran, which prevents platelets from sticking together to form a clot in the blood. Patients at risk for stroke, pulmonary embolism, and deep vein thrombosis were prescribed this drug to manage their conditions, but in the end the costs outweighed the benefits for many. Because the drug was designed to prevent coagulation, minor cuts and bruises turned excessive and required emergency medical attention. Some patients were not aware of the potential risks of the medication and filed lawsuits against the company who marketed the drug. The German based company, Boehringer Ingelheim, settled hundreds of lawsuits in just the first couple of years of distribution. It is important to be aware of the risks and rewards of anything a person consumes, but even more so with medications. Three reasons why patients should practice medication awareness are listed below.
- It’s your life on the line. Some prescriptive, and over the counter, medications have such severe side effects that death may be a consequence of using them. It is critical to discuss with your doctor the potential risks of any medication they recommend and the odds of the risk occurring to you specifically before you experience irreversible damage to your body and health. It is also important to know what to abstain from and what to warn doctors about while on certain medications. For example, patients on Pradaxa may need to stop their dosing schedule before having surgery or dental work.
- Allergic reactions. Some medications can cause allergic reactions in a person; but without researching the drug first, these side effects can be a little too late for someone. Any sign of swelling in the face or throat, difficulty breathing, pain or tight feeling in the chest, or hives should result in an immediate call to your doctor and urgent medical attention.
- It’s a relatively newer drug. Even though drugs undergo extensive research and experimentation before public exposure, not everything can be tested for in a lab. Some people have no reactions to a drug, where others develop life-threatening symptoms. Everybody works differently, and some side effects are unknown until a variety of patients have tried a drug. Once a pattern has been identified, the drug may be recalled until a solution is found. If any of your medications have been recalled, talk to your doctor right away about why it was recalled and find a replacement option if necessary. Some medications are recalled for minor issues such as packaging information or difficult administration techniques, but it is still imperative to ask how a recall will affect you.
RecallGuide.org is a website designed to help educate patients on side effects, warnings, recalls, and pending lawsuits of certain drugs. Visit them today to learn more about the medications you are currently taking and the risks associated.