blood red ring

In our inbox yesterday morning was a media alert from Adverse Events, Inc., regarding the anticoagulant Eliquis (apixaban) and some new cases of colon cancer and liver injury. There is nothing in the official prescribing information regarding such possible complications.

This healthcare informatics company monitors FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) looking for signals of drug problems. The researchers also obtain insider data from the FDA through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). This is just the latest alert regarding Eliquis, a medication prescribed to prevent blood clots in patients with an irregular heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation. The drug is also used to prevent blood clots after knee replacement surgery and to reduce the risks of blood clots in the legs or lungs from deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Admittedly, the number of cases of colon cancer or liver damage is very small, but this will require careful follow-up to make sure there isn’t a trend developing. Adverse Events, Inc., (AdverseEvents.com) has noted other complications associated with Eliquis that have not made it into the official label. These include heart failure, kidney problems and difficulty swallowing (dysphagia).

Please keep in mind that such adverse drug reports may be coincidental and not related to Eliquis, but they deserve serious attention until we know for sure.

Established Eliquis (Apixaban) Side Effects

What we know with reasonable certainty is that this anticoagulant has some pretty serious adverse effects that are established. They include:

Hemorrhage:

  • Serious bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract
  • Serious bleeding in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke)
  • Serious bleeding within the eye

Anemia

Nausea

Blood clots if the drug is stopped suddenly. No one should EVER discontinue Eliquis suddenly without careful medical supervision. This “rebound” clotting effect could trigger life-threatening events.

Spinal procedures such as epidural anesthesia can be very dangerous for people taking Eliquis.

Serious allergic reactions (skin rash, anaphylaxis)

Other, Less Common Side Effects:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Breathing problems
  • Bruising
  • Nose bleeds and bleeding gums
  • Bleeding at the site of surgery

We don’t know about you, but whenever we see a long list of side effects our eyes glaze over. Reading real stories from visitors to this website makes such complications far more concrete. We received this message from Joe:

“Eliquis is the worst drug I’ve ever taken in my life. After only six days I developed all of the following side effects:

  1. SEVERE exhaustion. Couldn’t even walk to the mailbox.
  2. SEVERE breathlessness.
  3. Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  4. Blurred vision.
  5. SEVERE cognitive failure. Felt like my head was stuffed with cotton.
  6. Periods of rapid heart beat.
  7. Insomnia.
  8. BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia)
  9. Ravenous appetite; absolutely craved carbs. Would have to get up in the middle of the night and eat.”

Many of Joe’s symptoms (insomnia, BPH, cognitive impairment and increased appetite) are not listed in the official prescribing information so it is hard to know if they were really brought on by Eliquis.

This story is from Margaret is far more worrisome:

I live in Queensland, Australia. My cardiologist transferred me from warfarin to Eliquis 5 mg morning and night in October 2014. I am 78 years old with heart failure plus AF [atrial fibrillation]. Yesterday afternoon I suddenly had a very major nosebleed, 6 paper towels were soaked, 3 hand towels were soaked and one bath towel was wet.

I rang one of my daughters and she rang the ambulance while she was on her way. The paramedics arrived and quickly brought the nosebleed under control. I was advised by the doctor at the 24 hour clinic to not take the Eliquis and to go see my normal doctor today. I have an appointment to see him at 2.30 pm this afternoon.

I will be telling my doctor that I want to go back on the warfarin…Yes, it necessitates regular blood tests but it is far safer than Eliquis and the other two drugs that have been developed to replace warfarin. Warfarin has an antidote, Vitamin K, whereas the others don’t…they have nothing to reverse the bleeding if it gets bad!

No way will I put myself at risk with these new anticoagulant drugs!

Margaret isn’t the only one concerned about the new generation of oral anticoagulants. The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) issues a publication called “Quarter Watch.” It too monitors the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System. In the January 9, 2013 issue it noted that:

“Strong signals continued for three anticoagulant drugs, warfarin (COUMADIN) and newcomers dabigatran (PRADAXA) and rivaroxaban (XARELTO). The three drugs accounted for 1,734 reports to the FDA in 2012 Q2, including 233 patient deaths, reinforcing the conclusion that anticoagulants rank among the highest risk of all outpatient drug treatments…”

On October 17, 2013 the ISMP Quarter Watch reported that anticoagulant medications such as dabigatran (Pradaxa) and warfarin (Coumadin) contributed to the leading drug safety problems reported to the FDA in 2012. The conclusions:

“The 2012 adverse event report data show, in our judgment, that a major priority in drug safety should be to reduce the serious and fatal hemorrhages resulting from treatment with anticoagulant drugs, particularly in the older population with atrial fibrillation.”

The Bottom Line:

Anticoagulants are important drugs. They reduce the risk of blood clots that can cause strokes and other serious health problems. But these medications must be treated with kid gloves. They require careful dosing and regular monitoring. Patients must be warned about the potential for serious bleeding complications and what to do if they happen. We agree with the experts at ISMP that:

“Numerous steps can be taken to enhance the safety of anticoagulants. Unlike warfarin, neither dabigatran nor rivaroxaban have antidotes to rapidly reverse the anticoagulant effects of treatment. More and better information for clinicians is needed about how to manage hemorrhages that occur either as a side effect or as a result of accident or trauma.”

Share your own experience with the anticoagulants both positive or negative. Insert your story about Coumadin, Eliquis, Pradaxa or Xarelto in the “What Do You Think” section below.

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  1. Jim
    Michigan
    Reply

    I’m 82 and always in good health no heart problems other then Afib 3 years ago and as far as I know never had it again. Walking 3 miles daily, fishing on Lake Michigan by myself putting a 21 foot boat in and out of the lake by myself. Avid hunter with gun and bow. Plus have guardianship of my great grandsons 8 & 9. I had been put on Xarelto 3 years ago for Afib after being on this medication for about 6 months developed a colon bleed and lost over 1/2 of my blood. I was rushed by ambulance to a hospital in a larger city. Very scary and close to dying when my body started to produce blood. The hospital stopped the Xarelto and put me on Eliqiist 5mg twice daily and after 3 days in hospital finally got to go home. Since starting Eliquist I have developed the following
    1. Head and eyes feel like I have a bad cold most of the time 2. Blurred vision which sometimes lasts all day 3. heavy legs 4. Loss of balance and have to be very careful walking 4. No energy have become a couch potato. Loss of memory in the last 6 months. 5. Very short of breath. 6. light headed, dizzy. 7. Blood pressure high160/75 most of the time after running in the 120/65 for 2 years. 8. Kidney function at 46 before this drug ran over 60. All I know is I feel terrible since being put on Eliquist and feel sure that it is the cause of my problems and I want to get off this drug but my doctor advises that I will be on it lifetime. I have cut the 5mg twice a day to 2 1/2mg twice a day but still feel the same. If my doctor doesn’t take me off this drug will have to chance stopping myself

  2. Doren
    Virginia
    Reply

    I was very briefly prescribed Eliquis because cardi thought he saw an AF in a test. Almost immediately I began having nearly every symptom the posters here have suffered thru. Worst of all were the leg muscle and hip joint’s awful pains. Then came the severe red rash on one leg. My GP said exposure to sunlight interacting with normal skin while on this drug was the cause. He gave me a steriod based creme which has been slowly helping. Also the extreme fatigue, loss of cognitive function, weight gain, general malaise have ruined my previously active (runner) military lifestyle. I very scared about the future effects of this drug. I take no other meds. The website that tries to track compensation given to prescribers shows over $4500, trips, dinners and such he has received to prescribe Eliquis.

  3. Jodi M Keener
    West Virginia
    Reply

    I was put on Eliquis from Coumadin back in May. Was on it for about 3 days and ballooned up to 284 pounds with swelling. Couldn’t wear my shoes. Couldn’t breathe. I was swollen all over my entire body.
    My cardiologist put me back on Coumadin (my family doctor was the one who switched me and wouldn’t switch me back. Said it wasn’t the Eliquis making me swell). My cardiologist also had me do an adverse event rwport with the FDA. He said they needed to know about an adverse reaction that severe. After he switched me he put me on Lasix 20mg daily to help get the fluid back off. It took a couple of months. Finally in October I am back ro normal and happily back on Coumadin. Never again will I complain about getting my INR checked. Never again will I put that drug back in my system.

  4. patricia
    ga.
    Reply

    I think they should take it off the market

  5. Martine
    Australia
    Reply

    Commenced on Eliquis by cardiologist who told me that it was a much better drug than plavix. I had an ablation for AF which was mostly effective, only having short bursts now instead of hours of AF. Have been on it for almost 10 months. I have no energy, not sleeping more than 3 hours until completely exhausted after a few days, then sleeping 10-12 hours, still waking up tired. Binge eating, craving the carbs. Having Nose bleeds. Can’t go for long walks without getting breathless. I preferred taking plavix because fewer side effects. Only mild bruising when I accidently knocked into something. Now when I do knock myself the bruises are large and painful.

  6. tina
    great britain
    Reply

    I am a 67 year old female. Never been ill or broken anything, Fell in snow in March and broke my ankle, a couple of toes and my shin bone. Lying about for 8 weeks but only given 3 weeks stomach injections to avoid clots. Got PE in both lungs and put on apixaban. Got a few symptoms, light headed, dizzy a few palpitations but it all calmed down. My legs however feel so heavy, like lead in the morning, getting down the stairs is a nightmare. My doc says I’m OK now and can stop taking it middle of November. Just stop? All the warnings are that this shouldn’t be done? Anyone else taken it for six months and just stopped please?

  7. Di
    CA
    Reply

    I am a 53 year old female who went through a double pulmonary embolism 04/18. The Dr’s called it an unprovoked event. I spent two days in ICU, spent some time on coumadin, when that failed I was put on Eliquis. Now I am feeling dizzy and my heart rate is out of control. I want my Dr to take me off this medicine. I went from being very active to feeling like I cant get off of the couch.

  8. Ann Chee
    CA
    Reply

    occasional hunger pangs. I am very concerned about the long-term side affects of Eliquis, such as colon cancer, dementia especially if one has been on the meds for years. What are we all facing in the long run from being on Eliquis?

  9. Ian
    NSW Australia
    Reply

    on Apixaban for a second time in 2 years. First time was ok. Have been on this current prescription by same cardiologist for 2 months. Absolutely no energy, can’t sleep , wake after 3 hours, and lie awake for hours, then very disrupted sleep. Dizzyness, disoriented, bouts of double vision, legs feel like concrete. 5mg x 2 daily. Renal Dr recently suggested Apixaban could be the culprit. Cardiologist denies it but I have experimented with cutting dose in half and feel much better. I see GP today to discuss other alternatives, as I cannot function like this. Am a 73 yr-old male. It was prescribed for occasional AF.

    • Ian
      NSW Australia
      Reply

      Update: Swapped to Pradaxa. All above side effects have eased over a period of 6 weeks. Some faster than others. Generally feeling much better. More energy, fewer head spins and double vision (down from around six events a day to 0-2). Extreme fatigue has gone.

  10. phylis
    somerset
    Reply

    Hi, Following my hip op it was discovered that I had A F.(atrial fibrillation) I was prescribed apixaban 2.5 twice a day.

    For six weeks I was so sick nauseous and dizzy that I thought I was going to pass out at times. I had a severe thirst which lasted through the night as well as during the day. Food felt like cotton wool with no taste and the sharp pain in my stomach was on going. Before my op. I took CLOPIDOGREL. After discussion with my G. P. I am back on clipidogrel. I am told clopidogrel is not as good as apixaban for A. F. because of the risk of a stroke.

    It’s two days since I have stopped apixaban and I am feeling better. I am able to eat again and hopefully will start to recover from my operation.

  11. Peggy
    TN
    Reply

    I was diagnosed with afib last year and placed originally on flecinide (sp?) which caused my feet to balloon up at night while in the bed and the swelling would not cease. Was then put on Eliquis.

    I had never had any kidney functions problems before starting this drug. My creatinine was .89 and my GFR was great. The Eliquis was started in December 2017. From Jan 2018 until May 2018, my kidneys changed and I am now in stage 4 kidney failure. I had to have a kidney biopsy in august, and as a result was told to stop eliquis for 6 days prior to the procedure and 2 weeks after. The day I left the hospital, the day after the biopsy, my kidney function was turning around a took a sharp trend toward normal.

    After 2 weeks I was told to start Eliquis again, and have done so. In the past month of resuming the drug, my kidney function has worsened even more and I am looking at kidney failure and dialysis if this trend does not stop. I told my doctor that I thought it was eliquis, which, she said is not a drug that affects the kidney. Well, if it doesn’t I don’t know what it could be.

    Taking it is the only thing different, and obviously stopping it caused improvement. I have to stop taking this drug and give my kidneys a chance to rebound somewhat. They will never recover to the normal function it was before taking the drug, but I feel I have to be proactive and try to literally save my life and the surety of dialysis in the near future. Any one else having this sort of reaction? Well wishes to all of you.

    • Buford
      TN
      Reply

      I am a 58 year old male that experienced unprovoked pulmonary embolisms. ! was placed on eliquis for blood clots. I believe the medication has helped thin the blood, cause the slights cut or scrape I leak like a sieve. My legs feel so heavy and memory is more than just foggy. An overall tiredness has taken over and I’m sleepy all the time. When I ask my doctors about the side effects it seems to fall on deaf ears. I have asked how I might have got the blood clots and I have been told by more than one doctor that it didn’t matter, it would not change the way I would be treated. This is frustrating I have never been sick other than an occasional cold up until 2015 and I got sick and was treated for Pneumonia. After treatment I still had a persistent cough it seems now that I had a condition called scardious. They have treated the lungs and I’m breathing great. But I still do not know why I got the blood clots. My legs feel so heavy and after I sit for a few minutes because of the leg pain it is a real effort to walk again. Overall weakness of the body and legs make me feel really bad. I do not like this feeling. Has anyone else had scardious and Blood clots and some of the same side effects from eliquis?

  12. scott
    san diego ca.
    Reply

    on elequis about a year , I’m very active , couldn’t figure out what was happening with my legs , felt like lead , espsicaley in the glute region , an back of legs , have hiked a lot , and with dogs , don’t ever remember this , now i think its the elequis , trying to figure this out ! and yeah , its scary to no how to handle it .

  13. Lois
    Wva
    Reply

    I was having severe pain in eyeballs,bleeding in urine,very bright and a lot,nose bleeds,numbness in legs,nightmares,itching,rash,went to doctor,they couldn’t find any infection in kidneys,eyes ok,numbness blamed on back,sodium so low,told if I didn’t get it up,would have to be hospitalized and put on I V,stopped eliquis,told to drink Gatorade,and extra salt on food,5mg twice a day,also heart palpitations,went t 1/2 pill still symptoms,cut out completely, and all better, was on it a year.

  14. Dave
    cape cod
    Reply

    I have been on Eliquis for a few years have gained significant weight am Dizzi and lightheaded, hard breathing very tired, many more A-Fib events! Etc

  15. Chris
    Bristol
    Reply

    My consultant haematologist changed the Clexane I was taking to Apixaban on 9 August 2018, and since then I have been feeling light headed and dizzy.

    I also cannot sleep. I stay awake at nights until 4 or 5 in the morning and get up around 8 or 9am. After a few days of this I am so exhausted that I sleep for one night. Then the pattern starts all over again.

    I am a 62 year-old female who had DVT with blood clots in my leg and abdomen caused in part probably by Ulcerative Colitus.

    I will be seeing my doctor and requesting a change of blood thinner, as I can’t go on like this.

  16. Jerry
    Texas
    Reply

    Had bypass surgery 3-01-18. Started A-fib on the second day. Was started on Eliquis, 2 per day. It has been six months. I lost my smell and taste right after surgery. Went through Rehab thinking I would regain smell and taste. It has been 6 mths. No smell or taste and problem thinking at times. I have discussed with Drs. and have no answers yet.

  17. Penny
    Schdy ny
    Reply

    On eliquis 8 mo. Rashes itching wakes me up. Feeling of burning under my skin. Unable to sleep swollen face and eyes wake up craving carbs Put on drug after broken back. No other illness.no follow up by dr who says it’s unnessesary. 77 year old female formerly healthy.

  18. Jack
    Thornton, pa
    Reply

    I’m a 64 yo male who was prescribed eliquis due to a blood clot in my calf that came from a minor car accident. Took it two months. Had vertigo, vertigo,vertigo;2 ER visits; depression; light-headedness all the time in between vertigo attacks; can hardly function. Doc tells me I have Meniers disease.

    I took charge of my own life and threw the Eliquis that I paid nearly $500 a month for in the trash. I figured the way I was feeling I had nothing to lose. I almost wanted to die. Two weeks later after stopping I’m feeling a bit better. Have a better outlook on life with the dizziness getting better.

  19. Richard
    Florida
    Reply

    I have been on Eliquis 5mg twice daily for about 4 months. Started with a blood clot forming in abdominal artery which the Eliquis managed to dissolve. No previous history of blood clots, nor any since. Unknown cause according to the doctors which numbered many at the hospital. Was told I would have to stay on the Eliquis ad infinitum to prevent the possibility of future clots inasmuch as the source could not be found. I am scheduled in 4 days for a spinal procedure (open back surgery) which necessitated my withdrawing from Eliquis for a week prior to and a week after the operation. I have been off it for 3 days and I am going through some awful withdrawal symptoms. Diarrhea, upset stomach after eating, tiredness and much of the same problems repeated throughout this page. The upside however is that I am beginning to wonder if the symptoms for which I am undergoing back surgery are not also being caused by my use of the Eliquis. I may end up cancelling my back surgery if I discover that after a few more days off this stuff I discover that it was the cause of my tired legs, loss of balance etc.. The bottom line is that this is one powerful drug with many side effects and I doubt that, regardless of the outcome of my operation should I decide to go through with it, I will ever take that drug again. I will go on aspiring and take my chances. At 75 years old I figure if it’s my time to go then so be it, but I’m not going to live with all the side effect from this drug.

  20. jean m
    highbridge somerset
    Reply

    Have just spent 3 days in hospital suffering from shortness of breath, weakness ,tingling in my legs , confusion and depression. This is after being on Apixaban(Eliquis) for 2 years and ‘blaming’ every other medication that I’m also on for high blood pressure and odema, now believe it’s Apixaban that has been causing the problems.

    • Janice
      Tennessee
      Reply

      I like your attitude. I’m not even sure the doctors know that I have a-fib. In 20 years with the same doctor, it NEVER has shown up after testing. I’m sick of tests, such as a device called The Loop, which I didn’t want to begin with. Now it’s implanted in my chest. Diarrhea after eating is worse than IBS. No control, omg.

  21. D
    NC
    Reply

    Since starting Eliquis on June the 29th: I can’t sleep, feel worn out, memory not what it was, and now I have shakes, plus paying $440 a month. Open for suggestions.

  22. JAMES G. B.
    PA
    Reply

    I’m a 66 year-old male who started on ELIQUIS. Last week, after awakening with an irregular heart beat and calling 911, was diagnosed with AFIB, after several hours in the ER, they got my 180 BPM heart rate and 200+/100 BP back to normal. I was taking 81mg asprin, but after awhile was scared into taking ELIQUIS. I’m on 5mg twice a day.

    Today, 5 days after beginning it, I felt unreal. I took my bath, felt scared as I felt like I’m not here, restless and agitated, and extremely short-tempered. I feel unwell. I already have prostate cancer. Have tried hormones/radiation. Couldn’t handle the side effects, and now I feel like I’m on my way out. I wish I would not have started Eliquis. felt like cutting my wrist. Just had blood work done. Starting to feel like a pest to the Drs. My older brother has occasional AF. He’s on aspirin. He refused any blood thinner. What do I do? I feel for everyone who is going through this.

  23. Doris S
    FL
    Reply

    I have been on Eliquis for 6 months, and have developed neuropathy in my feet. It is getting worse each week. I cannot walk on uneven ground without losing my balance. Has anyone else had this? I am an 82 yr. old female with Afib, not overweight, but not very active.

  24. Anna
    Kissimmee, Fl
    Reply

    I have had satisfactory results with magnesium water. Dr William Davis suggested this in one of his books or you can look it up online. It might not be the solution for everyone but the only times my heart has gone out of normal rhythm was either when I forgot to drink it or once when I decided I was “cured”.

    I am in my middle 80s and don’t take any blood thinners because I have normal heartbeat. For the price of a bottle of seltzer and a bottle of milk of magnesia, isn’t it worth a try?

    • pat m.
      ga.
      Reply

      How much water and how much magnesium?

  25. Smitty
    Virginia
    Reply

    After receiving a defib unit (Boston Sci.) and 4 drug-eluting stents, I was taken off Prasugrel and given a really expensive “new” drug, Eliquis. Within 72 hours, I began to have increasingly lengthy nosebleeds which were difficult to get stopped. The worst was over 15 hours.
    After discontinuing Eliquis, but continuing my daily regime of simple 81-mg aspirin in the a.m., I have had satisfactory checkups for 2 years with the Echo machine and a complete cessation of any nosebleeds.

  26. Kay
    Tennessee
    Reply

    Been on Eliquis a few years. I was about 100 lbs over weight and was breathless etc. also had leg swelling. Decided to lose some weight.

    After losing 35 lbs I no longer am breathless my legs are not swelled up. I ride my bicycle 1 hr every day. I am 71 yr old female. This drug has helped me I have a fib and high blood pressure and hope to improve my blood pressure.

    Now, lost about 65 losing. I feel wonderful every day losing the lbs has truly changed my life.

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