You’ve probably seen the commercials. The most vivid to me was the one with Arnold Palmer, Kevin Nealon, and Brian Vickers. They are playing a round of golf and speaking to each other in shockingly sophisticated ways about the many benefits and occasional side effects of the drug Xarelto. These guys sound like pharmacists or physicians, not athletes and comedians. It is a perfect example of direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical marketing.
Xarelto quickly became a blockbuster drug when it hit the market in 2011. Xarelto (or rivaroxaban) was approved for sale by the FDA in July 2011. It was supposed to represent the next major advancement in blood thinning (anti-coagulant) medication. Xarelto was developed to prevent serious conditions that sometimes arise after surgeries (such as artificial hip and knee surgeries). As an anti-coagulant, it was intended to prevent pulmonary embolism (PE) and deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and strokes. The patients Xarelto was intended to help were those with atrial fibrillation (or irregular heartbeat), who were a group of people more vulnerable to PE, DVT, and stroke after surgery. Eventually, the FDA expanded approval of Xarelto to treat all patients with PE and DVT and atrial fibrillation.