November 5, 2010

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

Posted in Heart Disease in the News, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:16 am by keepyourhearthealthy

photo by Andy Newson

It seems like just yesterday that Pradaxa (dabigatran) became officially approved by the FDA for sales in the US.

Normally it takes quite awhile for a prescription drug to actually appear on the shelves after approval.  But this new drug is not your average prescription.  The manufacturer, Boehringer Ingelheim, has brought Pradaxa to the pharmacy shelves in record time.

Pradaxa was just approved by the FDA on October 19th for preventing strokes in patients with atrial fibrillation.  Yesterday, the pills were available for shipping to pharmacies throughout the US.  Why the lightning fast availability?  Because heart patients in the US have been waiting decades for a good alternative to Coumadin or warfarin in atrial fibrillation.  Patients are tired of the frequent bloodwork to monitor the effectiveness of Coumadin.  Plus, the side effects and drug interactions are staggering to say the least.  Pradaxa protects against stroke better than Coumadin without all the fingerstick checks, drug interactions and side effects.

I called my local Kroger pharmacy and they could have the pills within 2 days.  Out of pocket, I was given a quote of $760 for a 3 month supply.  Using my prescription insurance and Medco, a second quote came down to $120 for 90 days. Not too bad…  I was expecting worse for a “non-preferred” medicine!

Here are some other new details to know if you intend to switch from Coumadin to Pradaxa:

  • 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)
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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!