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!

July 9, 2010

Promising Competitor for Plavix up for FDA Approval Soon

Posted in Heart Disease in the News, Heart disease tips tagged , , , , , , , , at 12:14 am by keepyourhearthealthy

Photographer: br3akthru

A new investigational drug is coming up for FDA approval later this month.  This new drug called ticagrelor could change heart disease medications by competing with the big brand name Plavix.  Up until a year ago, there were no good alternatives to Plavix.  Plavix is a “blood thinner” prescription that is frequently given to patients after they have had a drug-eluting stent placed in their coronary arteries.  Now, people have the option of using a new drug called Effient instead of Plavix.  Unfortunately, Effient is still quite expensive like Plavix.

The newest medication ticagrelor would add even more competition for Plavix in heart disease patients.  The best part is that studies have shown ticagrelor works in patients who do not respond to Plavix therapy. Recently the FDA issued a warning to cardiologists about a small percentage of patients who do not respond to Plavix.  These non-responders have an increased risk of heart attacks because they do not get the same benefits from Plavix.

If ticagrelor becomes FDA approved at the end of July, we may soon have a solution for the people who do not respond to Plavix.  Patients need to be aware that the new drug might cause shortness of breath.  But for Plavix non-responders ticagrelor could be a life-saving treatment!