November 6, 2015 San Diego, CA — As the number of Xarelto lawsuits climbs to almost 2,000, and the link to fatal bleeding becomes more commonly known, Janssen Pharmaceuticals is going above and beyond on its recent marketing campaigns. The company has a television ad featuring a slew of well-known celebrities.
The celebrities include NBA player Chris Bosh, NASCAR driver Brian Vickers, golfer Arnold Palmer and Saturday Night Live alumni Kevin Nealon. In the commercial, these men clearly don’t have much in common, but Janssen would have us believe that they are all old friends who decided to come together for a game of golf. After their friendly game, they retire to the clubhouse to talk about how “treatment with Xarelto was the right move” for them.
Brian Vickers tells viewers that Xarelto was “proven to treat and help reduce the risk of DVT, or deep vein thrombosis, and PE, pulmonary embolism blood clots.” Kevin Nealon states “Xarelto was also proven to reduce the risk of stroke in people with ‘A-Fib’ (atrial fibrillation, or irregular heartbeat) not caused by a heart valve problem.”
None of the celebrities seem to mention the FDA concerns over certain aspects of the clinical tests, specifically whether or not test subjects had been at the optimal level of blood clotting for a period of time. They also don’t mention that Janssen Pharmaceuticals and its partners at Bayer funded post-market studies.
A voice-over in the commercial says that, “for people with ‘A-Fib’ currently well-managed on warfarin, there was limited information on how Xarelto and warfarin compare in reducing the risk of stroke.” Vickers shares his experience with warfarin, telling Nealon, “I tried warfarin…but the blood testing and dietary restrictions…” to which Nealon responds, “Don’t get me started on that.”
The issue with warfarin is the biggest selling point of Xarelto. Patients taking warfarin are at risk for close to 500 interactions with other prescription drugs as well as different foods high in Vitamin K, like spinach. Drug interactions are especially concerning for elderly patients, many of whom take several different medications. Xarelto has less than 50 interactions and requires far less in the way of expensive, tedious patient testing.
The ad also mentions that patients on Xarelto “may bruise more easily, and it may take longer for bleeding to stop.” This is a major understatement on Janssen’s part. In fact, the bleeding could not stop at all until the drug is completely removed from the system, as there is no FDA approved reversal agent. The voice-over then advises patients to seek emergency assistance in the case of bleeding, but there is no mention on how such bleeding should be handled.
The celebrities are seen golfing, and Vickers tells Nealon, as if in secret, “You know, Xarelto is the Number One prescribed blood thinner in its class,” and Nealon replies, “That’s a big win.”
Sadly, Xarelto isn’t a big win for those who claim that they’ve been injured or even killed by Xarelto. Executives at Janssen, and Johnson & Johnson, have been the targets in numerous liability lawsuits in the recent years, especially with studies published in major medical journals.
Although there has been a promising reversal agent, Annexa-R, undergoing clinical trials, there is no indication as to when it, or if, it will be approved by the FDA. It’s become clear that Janssen and Bayer are determined to generate as much revenue as possible from Xarelto, regardless of the lawsuits pending against this harmful drug. We truly hope that all of the celebrity Xarelto spokesmen continue to have success with the medication, however if they end up suffering from uncontrollable bleeding like the other 2,000 patients, it could put Janssen in trouble with their marketing campaign.