November 15, 2010

Another New Coumadin Alternative on the Rise

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , at 7:15 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

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In October the FDA approved the only alternative to Coumadin thus far, Pradaxa (AKA dabigatran).  Another new alternative has just finished a round of trials and may be joining in the famed distinction of being named “Coumadin alternative.”

This latest anticoagulant drug is called Xarelto (AKA rivaroxaban) and it is manufactured by Bayer/Johnson & Johnson.  The trial which has cardiologists buzzing about this new drug is known as ROCKET-AF.  14,000 patients with atrial fibrillation in the ROCKET-AF trial have been tested with either Coumadin or Xarelto and so far the results are promising.  Xarelto has been shown to be just as effective in preventing strokes as Coumadin.  The greatest difference between this new study drug and Coumadin is that Xarelto does not require dose adjustments and monitoring.

However, unlike the newly approved Pradaxa, Xarelto has not yet been shown to work better than Coumadin for preventing strokes.  The other Coumadin alternatives are not even approved yet and it already looks like Pradaxa has an advantage over the competition.  If approved by the FDA soon, Xarelto could still easily compete by setting their prices lower than Pradaxa.  To be honest, any drug that works as well as Coumadin but without all the hassle is bound to be popular!

 

 

November 13, 2010

The Latest in Pradaxa News

Posted in Heart Disease in the News, Helpful Heart Links, New Heart Studies tagged , , , , , , , , , at 7:33 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

photo by br3akthru

It’s assumed that patients and cardiologists alike will love the new Coumadin alternative, Pradaxa.  On Monday, we’ll get to hear more about the drug and cardiologists’ reactions to it.

The American Heart Association‘s Scientific Sessions will surely be buzzing during their presentations about the latest treatments for anticoagulation.  The scientists who tested Pradaxa on 18,000 patients in the RE-LY study are reportedly presenting their findings to the thousands of cardiologists at this large conference in Chicago (reported by The Sacramento Bee).

It should be interesting to see what the conference attendees have to say about Pradaxa at the end of the Session.  Currently it doesn’t appear that there has been a huge surge of prescriptions for this only alternative to Coumadin.  It could be that cardiologists are just not completely comfortable switching their patients yet.  Once the trend catches on though, Pradaxa could easily become the most popular drug of 2011.

Read more about Pradaxa in Yes, Your Pharmacy Can Now Give You An Alternative To Coumadin! Pradaxa is HERE!

To learn more about atrial fibrillation and heart disease, check out the book What To Do When You Have Heart Disease.

October 28, 2010

Canada Adds New Coumadin Alternative To Their Atrial Fibrillation Guidelines

Posted in Heart Disease in the News tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 1:47 am by keepyourhearthealthy

 

photo by Bill Longshaw

 

The newest anticoagulant drug Pradaxa (dabigatran) is already in Canada’s atrial fibrillation guidelines…even though it is still not approved to be sold in Canada!

Pradaxa (dabigatran) has made some huge headlines lately in the medical news ever since the FDA voted to approve it in September of this year.  Pradaxa is expected to be the first and only alternative to the super blood thinner Coumadin (warfarin).  For over 50 years people with atrial fibrillation have been forced to take Coumadin as a means of reducing their chances of stroke.  Coumadin requires frequent dose changes and blood checks to monitor the levels whereas Pradaxa does not.  (See previous article Coumadin and Warfarin Alternative Almost Here!)

In Canada, an update to their atrial fibrillation guidelines this week already includes recommendations for Pradaxa.  Surprisingly, Pradaxa is not even approved for market there yet!  It seems as though they have jumped the gun a bit but the authors are defending the update by saying it is “cutting edge.”  They apparently want to be prepared for the release of this promising new alternative drug.  Specifically, they recommend 150mg of Pradaxa to most patients in the future given that Pradaxa’s study showed this dose is more effective at preventing stroke than Coumadin.

The hype surrounding Pradaxa is certainly growing every day.  The manufacturer Boehringer Ingelheim has even started playing commercials here in the US.  Given that Pradaxa is not yet on pharmacy shelves, these commercials do not actually mention the drug name.  They simply offer to give more information about atrial fibrillation in general.  Since Boehringer Ingelheim is most well-known for its prostate drug Flomax, you can be certain the commercials are NOT a way to promote that medicine.  They are clearly gearing up their marketing for the highly anticipated Pradaxa.  And Canada is certainly rolling out the welcome mat!

September 22, 2010

Goodbye Coumadin!! Hopefully Soon…

Posted in Heart Disease in the News, Heart disease tips tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:22 am by keepyourhearthealthy

photo by graur razvan ionut

Praise God!  The FDA has unanimously approved an alternative to Coumadin (warfarin) in atrial fibrillation.  The new drug called Pradaxa or dabigatran has been available in Europe and Canada for quite some time now.

Yesterday, the FDA agreed that Pradaxa should become available to patients with atrial fibrillation (afib) here in the US as well.  Pradaxa is an anticoagulant or “blood-thinner” that helps to significantly reduce the risk of stroke in afib.

Patients and cardiologists have been longing for a drug to replace Coumadin for many years.  Coumadin (warfarin) is a very old drug that was used as rat poison originally and then converted to a pill form to prevent strokes in certain heart patients.  Coumadin has significant bleeding risks and needs to be monitored with blood checks every few days to at least once a month. There are a ton of interactions for Coumadin as well which makes it difficult to adequately control the levels in some patients.

The newly-approved Pradaxa does not have as many bleeding risks and does not require frequent monitoring. Essentially it could be the answer to cardiology’s prayers…or will it?  The biggest obstacle to prescribing Pradaxa once it is officially in the pharmacy will be PRICE.  Currently, the pills cost $8 to $12 per day in other countries.  The reason it costs so much is because physicians use Pradaxa for short-term conditions abroad rather than for long-term use like in atrial fibrillation.  Hopefully, the manufacturers will cut the cost dramatically so that a majority of the patients can afford it!

September 2, 2010

New Alternative to Coumadin and Warfarin?

Posted in Heart disease tips, New Heart Studies tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:58 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

photo by Michal Marcol

Patients with atrial fibrillation know all too well the problems with Coumadin and warfarin.

Atrial fibrillation is a very common arrhythmia in which the top chambers of the heart beat quickly and erratically.  Since the pumping of the atria is abnormal during atrial fibrillation, a clot can form in the heart.  If the clot travels up to the brain this leads to a stroke.  For this reason, people with atrial fibrillation are at a higher risk of stroke and may need to take a strong blood thinner called Coumadin (generic name warfarin).

Coumadin and warfarin dosages are variable and need frequent monitoring.  One person may only need to take 5mg per day while another person might need 7.5mg per day.  Fingerstick checks are done every few days to every month for checking the level (called INR).  People who cannot or will not take Coumadin need to take at least an aspirin a day to lower the risk of stroke.  Sounds like a lot of work right?

A simpler drug may be available soon!  A new study out of Ontario has reviewed a new medicine called apixaban in terms of replacing Coumadin and warfarin.  When compared with aspirin only, apixaban reduced the risk of stroke and other clotting problems by 54%!  The dose is standard for everyone and apparently there is no need for fingerstick checks.  Let’s pray that apixaban makes it through the next trial so we can truly have a great new alternative to Coumadin!