April 27, 2011

Pradaxa Now Covered by Medicare Part D!!

Posted in Heart disease tips, Helpful Heart Links tagged , , , , , , , , at 8:25 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

A patient having his blood pressure taken by a...

Image via Wikipedia

The new Coumadin alternative, Pradaxa, has recently become available on the Medicare Part D formulary.  Medicare recipients finally have an affordable option to Coumadin.

The first Coumadin alternative for atrial fibrillation became available late last year and Medicare patients have been anxiously waiting for it’s inclusion in the Part D formulary ever since.  With a hefty out-of-pocket cost at $250 a month, Pradaxa was much too expensive for most of the retired community.

Even though Pradaxa prevents more strokes than Coumadin, has no interactions with food (not even spinach) and requires NO monitoring (seriously, no more fingerstick checks!), many seniors could not rationalize paying $250 a month compared to Coumadin or warfarin which can cost as little as $4 per month.  Now, 6 months after Pradaxa was approved by the FDA, Medicare Part D has multiple plans which will cover the cost of this expensive new drug.  By searching the website www.medicare.gov, patients will be able to find Part D coverage and compare prices for individual plans.  The monthly drug cost is still fairly expensive (from $30 to $50 a month) but this is still significantly less than out-of-pocket cost.

Patients who plan to switch to Pradaxa should confirm with their Part D provider that the drug is covered before trying to get the prescription filled.  Here are some important tips to help make the switch:

  • Your INR needs to be 2 or less before you can start Pradaxa
  • You must take Pradaxa twice a day!
  • You CAN take Pradaxa while also taking Plavix but only if your cardiologist feels it is safe in your situation
  • Pradaxa starts working within 30 minutes to 2 hours
  • Pradaxa is generally no longer effective if you miss 2 doses
  • You cannot take Pradaxa if you are also taking Rifampin
  • Pradaxa is not currently indicated for people with mechanical heart valves (although this may be coming within the next few years)
  • The pills expire within 30 days of opening the bottle
  • The most common side effect is heartburn (GI upset)

October 20, 2010

Coumadin and Warfarin Alternative Almost Here!!

Posted in Heart Disease in the News, Helpful Heart Links, New Heart Studies tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 1:14 am by keepyourhearthealthy



photo from Boehringer Ingelheim website


In September, the FDA voted to approve a new drug called Pradaxa (dabigatran).  Today the FDA has announced Pradaxa is officially cleared for market.

The reason why so many people are buzzing about today’s FDA news is because we are now one step closer to getting rid of Coumadin and warfarin.  Pradaxa helps to prevent stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation similar to Coumadin.  However, Pradaxa does not require frequent blood tests to see if it is working.  Currently, people taking Coumadin or warfarin need a blood test at least every month.  See my previous post about this called Goodbye Coumadin!! Hopefully Soon…

According to the FDA website, Pradaxa will be sold in 2 different dosages, 75mg and 150mg.  Using dosages from previous studies, it appears that most people will be required to take 150mg twice a day.  For some patients with kidney problems, there is also the option of 75mg twice a day.

There is already a website for Pradaxa which has been started by the manufacturer (www.pradaxa.com).  The website includes a patient guide so that everyone can learn more about this new alternative to Coumadin.

See the manufacturers press release for more details:  http://us.boehringer-ingelheim.com/news_events/press_releases/press_release_archive/2010/october_20_2010.html

October 9, 2010

Meridia Pills Taken Away By FDA and Abbott

Posted in Heart Disease in the News, Heart disease tips, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , , at 12:07 am by keepyourhearthealthy

Medication used for obesity. Orlistat and sibu...

Image via Wikipedia

The FDA has asked Abbott to stop making a popular weight loss drug called Meridia.

Meridia has been advertised on television as a great new alternative to help suppress appetite. You may recall the commercials which showed plates of food being eaten only half-way. The suggestion was that Meridia would help you eat less and less thereby losing weight. Unfortunately, taking the drug has also been shown to increase your chance of a serious heart event by 16%!

In addition to increasing your risk of heart attack, Meridia can also increase your risk of stroke. Given that the risks seem to outweigh the benefits, the FDA asked Meridia’s manufacturer Abbott Laboratories to withdraw the drug from the market.

As of today, Abbott has agreed to stop production of Meridia.  If you are currently taking it, this means you will no longer be able to get your prescription filled at the pharmacy. Given the long history of various diet pills being pulled off the market for serious heart risks, I would say diet and exercise are the only safe alternatives for weight loss at this point!