Despite Bleeding Problems, Xarelto Sales Continue to Help J&J Reap Huge Profits
Amid continuing concerns about the risk of uncontrollable bleeding on Xarelto and the lack of an approved reversal agent, Johnson & Johnson indicates that sales of their blockbuster anticoagulant still pushed well past the $1 billion mark last year, helping drive profits even higher for the global pharmaceutical company.
Over the past year, Johnson & Johnson has faced a growing number of Xarelto lawsuits filed on behalf of individuals who suffered severe, and sometimes fatal, bleeding problems while using the medication.
All of the complaints raise similar allegations, claiming that the drug makers placed their desire for profits before consumer safety by failing to warn consumers and the medical community about the risk of bleeding problems on Xarelto, the lack of a reversal agent to stop the blood thinning effects of the drug and the importance of blood monitoring on Xarelto.
According to Johnson & Johnson’s 2014 report to shareholders (PDF), their tactics appear to be paying off, as Xarelto sales continue to grow, as users continue to suffer severe injuries and even wrongful death.
Xarelto (rivaroxaban) is distributed by Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen subsidiary in a partnership with Bayer Healthcare. It was first approved in July 2011, as a replacement for warfarin, which has been the go-to anticoagulant treatment for decades.
Amid aggressive marketing, which has misleadingly promoted the drug as safer and easier to use, many patients have been switched over to Xarelto for prevention of stroke associated with atrial fibrillation, as well as prevention of deep vein thrombosis among patients who have undergone knee or hip replacement surgery.
Johnson & Johnson reported recently that Xarelto sales were more than $1.5 billion last year, which is nearly double the $864 million reported in 2013, and represents a continued sharp trajectory since the medication hit the market.
The high sales were achieved through direct-to-consumer marketing, using a deluge of television commercials, some involving celebrities who allegedly use the blood thinner themselves. The marketing tactic has focused on encouraging patients who may otherwise be prescribed the cheaper anticogulant warfarin to ask their doctors for Xarelto instead. However, it is unlikely the drug makers would have generated the same profits if they had provided accurate warnings about the risk of severe and life-threatening Xarelto bleeding problems.