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Atrial Fibrillation Health Center

New Blood Thinner Beats Older Drug for Vein Clots

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"These new anticoagulants are great and appear to be as effective as the only other oral one out there, warfarin," said Dr. Jean Connors, medical director of the anticoagulation management service at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

They do, however, still have the risk of bleeding associated with them, said Connors, who wrote an accompanying journal editorial. "But they are easier to take because you don't need blood tests," she said.

Antidotes to bleeding caused by Pradaxa are in the works, Connors said. "With warfarin, bleeding can be reversed within half an hour, whereas with these drugs there is no good specific reversal for them," she said.

Cost of treatment is a consideration, too. Although Pradaxa is a lot more expensive than warfarin up front, when the associated costs of monitoring are accounted for, the two drugs appear to run about the same, Connors said.

"Warfarin is an extremely cheap drug, costing anywhere from $5 to $10 a month, and co-pays for Pradaxa are anywhere from $25 to $50 a month," she said.

Some cautions may be in order, however. Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a warning that Pradaxa should not be used to prevent stroke or blood clots in patients with mechanical heart valves.

The agency noted that a clinical trial in Europe was halted because patients taking Pradaxa were more likely to suffer strokes, heart attacks and clots forming on their mechanical heart valves than patients taking warfarin.

More information

For more information on deep venous thrombosis, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

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