Heart Beat: September 2015

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One of the concerns about some of the newer drugs designed to be alternatives to warfarin (Coumadin) is that they lack an antidote to excessive bleeding. Dabigatran (Pradaxa) has been hailed as a safe and effective alternative to warfarin, which can be difficult to dose correctly in many patients. And now a new drug called idarucizumab may provide the bleeding antidote that could make dabigatran an even safer drug for patients. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that idarucizumab reversed bleeding events caused by dabigratran within minutes. More testing and approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration still awaits. But the results of this trial are encouraging. Dabigatran works consistently without the kind of frequent dosing adjustments often required of patients on warfarin. These anticoagulant medications are taken to help prevent blood clot formation. But because they act as blood thinners, they raise the risk of bleeding episodes. Warfarin has an antidote, which gives physicians and patients some peace of mind. Though unusual, serious bleeding events caused by anticoagulants can be life threatening. Researchers are hoping that if the dabigatran antidote continues to meet expectations in studies, it will make doctors less reluctant to prescribe dabigatran in the future.
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