Posted: 03/09/2016

What to Know About Newer Oral Anticoagulants

Atrial_fibrillation_heart_chart

For over 50 years, warfarin was the only anticoagulant drug approved to treat atrial fibrillation, a condition characterized by an irregular heart rhythm. People with atrial fibrillation are at an increased risk for life-threatening blood clots and strokes, and as a blood thinner, warfarin was (and still is) prescribed to keep blood clots from forming.

Now, however, there are a few more medication options available for people with atrial fibrillation. In 2010, the FDA approved four new oral anticoagulants that can be alternatives to warfarin. 

What Are the New Anticoagulant Drugs?
The four new anticoagulant drugs are:

• Pradaxa (dabigatran)
• Xarelto (rivaroxaban)
• Eliquis (apixaban)
• Savaysa (edoxaban)

In clinical trials, the FDA found that all four of these drugs were either equivalent to or more effective than warfarin in preventing strokes.

Advantages and Disadvantages
Because anticoagulant drugs prevent blood from clotting, they all come with an increased risk of bleeding that can’t be easily stopped. However, the FDA found that all four of the new anticoagulants have ‘an acceptable risk of bleeding’, meaning that the benefits of the medication outweigh the relatively low risk of uncontrolled bleeding. Two of the drugs, Eliquis and Savaysa, caused less bleeding vs. warfarin in clinical trials. All four of the new drugs were found to be less likely than warfarin to cause a certain type of internal bleeding that can lead to a stroke.


Eliquis Box and Bottle


The new oral anticoagulants also have fewer food and drug interactions than warfarin. There is a long list of prescription and over-the-counter medications that can’t be taken with warfarin due to the risk that they will cause the blood thinner to either be less effective or too effective, and people who take warfarin also need to be careful about eating foods with Vitamin K, since too much Vitamin K can make the medication ineffective.

One other advantage of the new anticoagulant drugs over warfarin is that they require patients to have fewer blood tests. Patients who are taking warfarin need to have frequent prothrombin time tests, which measure how long it takes their blood to clot and allow their doctor to adjust their medication dose if necessary. The new anticoagulants have a fixed dose, and patients usually don’t need the same level of ongoing monitoring.

However, warfarin does still have some advantages over the new anticoagulant drugs. Warfarin has an approved reversal agent (Vitamin K) that can be taken in the event of life-threatening, uncontrolled bleeding. One of the new anticoagulants, Pradaxa, also has a reversal agent, but the FDA has not approved a reversal agent for the other three newer drugs. Additionally, the new medications are unsafe for people with kidney failure or a mechanical heart valve, so patients with these conditions should remain on warfarin.

If you have atrial fibrillation and are considering making the switch to a new medication, you’ll need to discuss your medical history with your doctor to determine a course of treatment that is safe for you. For discounts on these newer oral anticoagulants, search our site.

By HelpRx Staff Writer

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About the HelpRx.info Blog

HelpRx.info is staffed by experts in the prescription medication industry. Get the latest health, medical news and pharmaceutical news that can save you money and allow you to take charge of your healthcare. With frequent updates about the prescription drug industry as well as medicine news, you'll gain an insider look into the industry and learn more about how to get the best price on your prescriptions while not sacrificing quality. Subscribe to the HelpRx.info pharmacy blog through our RSS feed or get updates by liking HelpRx.info on Facebook and following HelpRx.info on Twitter.

About HelpRx

Our discounts provide you access to negotiated prices on your prescription drugs at your local pharmacy. We can provide these because we're partnered with OptumRx, a BIG pharmacy benefit provider that provides prescription coverage for MILLIONS of people like you.

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Script Relief, the creator of the NPSN card and HelpRx discounts, helps consumers save an average of 50%, and up to 75%, off their prescriptions.

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