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Readers in Ohio may have heard by now of a popular new blood-thinning drug called Praxada. It was introduced to the U.S. in 2010 and has come under fire after several patients died of internal hemorrhaging while taking the medication. The drug’s manufacturer has become the subject of several products liability suits in connection with the deaths, prompting questions about whether executives were aware of the drug’s deadly effects.

Hundreds of patients have reportedly fallen victim to the Praxada’s unpleasant and sometimes fatal side effects. The drug was introduced in the U.S. with the hopes of replacing aspirin and warfarin, both popular blood-thinning drugs for people who have suffered strokes. Physicians were enticed by the medication because aspirin and warfarin require constant monitoring; an alternative that did not require frequent testing would be beneficial, they thought.

Concerns about the product’s safety began to arise only months after it received FDA approval for distribution in this country. FDA reports show that 542 deaths were attributable to the drug in 2011 alone, with about 4,000 side-effect incidents also on record. An independent medication monitoring group reports that Praxada generated more reports of injury or death than any of its other 800 medications under consideration.

The drug’s manufacturer, Boehringer, eventually admitted that the drug was implicated in more than 200 deaths worldwide, but that admission came only after a European magazine uncovered evidence of the drug’s problematic formula. Physicians have since discovered that the drug does not have an antidote to counteract its blood-thinning action, which makes it a defective product. Attorneys nationwide are attempting to recover damages related to the faulty medication.

As many as 4,000 suits are currently under consideration in Delaware, California, Illinois and Connecticut, according to media reports, with more coming in every day. The drug manufacturer will probably work toward a global settlement for all claims in order to avoid hang-ups in the U.S. legal system. It is not clear whether the drug is slated for removal from U.S. pharmacy shelves.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, “Boehringer Is Sued by Hundreds Over Bleeding Linked to Praxada,” Jef Feely and Margaret Cronin Fisk, Dec. 11, 2012