A leading research institute recently announced funding that will support two new studies into the safety and effectiveness of new anticoagulant drugs – the first of their kind to compare all drugs currently available.
The move was announced last month by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, which will commit $6.5 million in funding for the studies. They will be carried out by teams at the University of California at San Francisco and Brigham and Womens Hospital in Boston.
Although previous studies compared various anticoagulant brands to each other or warfarin, these are the first to include all drugs: warfarin, Xarelto, Pradaxa, Eliquis and Savaysa.
Anticoagulants Among Fastest-Growing Medication Markets
The blood thinner class is currently one of the most widely-prescribed, and most dangerous, classes of drugs in the United States.
Warfarin, commonly known as Coumadin, has been used since 1954 to prevent blood clots and strokes in patients with heart disorders like atrial fibrillation. Due to dietary restrictions and the need for constant blood testing, researchers sought to develop alternatives.
Pradaxa entered the market in 2010, followed by Xarelto in 2011, Eliquis in 2012 and finally Savaysa in 2015. And while all four have their own unique make-up, they essentially claim to be safer than warfarin without the need for regular blood tests or dietary restriction.
Are Blood Thinners the Most Dangerous Drugs on the Market?
There’s only one problem: in a rush to gain a share of the estimated $15 billion anticoagulant market, the manufacturers of these drugs downplayed the risk to patients. Namely, that the drugs don’t have a readily available antidote to stop internal bleeding emergencies like warfarin does.
Since 2010, tens of thousands of patients have been hospitalized by serious internal bleeding caused by Pradaxa, Xarelto, Eliquis or Savaysa. Over 2,500 have died. And, despite some added warnings and massive legal settlements, there is no sign the use of these drugs will slow.
In 2014, the makers of Pradaxa paid more than $650 million to settle thousands of bleeding cases, and they now face a new round of lawsuits. Similarly, thousands of patients have filed Xarelto bleeding lawsuits in a special federal court.
All this leads to patients asking: which blood thinner is the safest?
One early study suggested Eliquis may be the safest of the pack, while Pradaxa had the greatest bleeding risks. However, again, there hasn’t been one study that tracked all four drugs for long-term risks.
Two New Studies Will Compare Risks of all Available Blood Thinners
The new studies will consist of one team at the University of California San Francisco, who will review patient records from both short term and extended use of all 5 blood thinners, comparing benefits and harms and whether results varied for those who were older, had kidney problems or a higher risk of bleeding.
The other group will operate out of Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and will examine the risks and benefits of all 5 blood thinners when used for the first time, and for longer periods of treatment.
DrugNews will continue to monitor any new research and developments regarding anticoagulant drugs. Check back for more updates.
Homer, C. New studies will investigate long-term anticoagulant use. Cardiology Today. (July 23, 2016). Retrieved from www.healio.com
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