Features January 2011 Issue

Dabigatran Emerges as Safe and Effective Warfarin Alternative

The recently approved drug is more expensive, but appears to be more predictable.

Atrial fibrillation (AF) patients now have an alternative to the anticoagulant warfarin (Coumadin). The Food and Drug Administration recently approved the drug dabigatran (Pradaxa) to help reduce the risk of stroke and systemic embolism in AF patients only. However, encouraging news from a recently completed trial suggests that dabigatran may one day soon be approved to also help lower the risk of acute venous thromboembolism (VTE), the formation of a blood clot in one of the deep veins of the body and the movement of that clot to the lungs. John Bartholomew, MD, section head of vascular medicine at Cleveland Clinic, agrees, but in the meantime, he thinks the new drug will be a welcome alternative for AF patients who have grown frustrated with warfarin’s limitations.

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