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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November 3, 2010

How Much Will The New Coumadin Alternative Cost?

Posted in Heart Disease in the News tagged , , , , , , , , at 1:43 am by keepyourhearthealthy

photo by graur codrin

Lately it seems we can hardly get away from the slightest bit of news about the new Coumadin alternative, Pradaxa (dabigatran).

Ever since the FDA approved Pradaxa, news reports have been buzzing about this drug which may replace Coumadin in the future.  Many patients will be happy to dispose of their Coumadin or warfarin tablets in favor of a better drug.  But at what cost?

Pradaxa’s manufacturer Boehringer Ingelheim has released their pricing for the pills at nearly $3.40 per dose.  Patients will be expected to take 150mg twice a day so that means it will actually cost $6.75 per day or more than $200 per month.  And this is just the wholesale cost…who knows what the retailers will charge?

So, is Pradaxa going to be worth the price? Some physicians have already calculated the cost of Pradaxa pills versus the total expense of Coumadin and it appears to be cost-effective.  When you consider the expense of INR checks at least monthly while taking Coumadin, the price of monitoring an anticoagulant like Coumadin really adds up over the years.

Needless to say, cardiologists and patients alike are eager to get rid of Coumadin which Robert Baeten, PA-C, calls   “The most-commonly prescribed, dangerous drug.”  If you hope to switch to Pradaxa in the near future, here are a few things to consider:

  1. If you have no prescription coverage, Pradaxa may cost up to 6 times more than brand name Coumadin
  2. If you have prescription coverage,  Pradaxa copays may be somewhat comparable to Plavix
  3. Pradaxa has been shown in studies to be safer than Coumadin as far as bleeding risk (so less worries about bleeding in your brain if you bump your head while taking Pradaxa)
  4. Pradaxa does not require frequent fingerstick monitoring like Coumadin

Just like everything else in this economy, the bottom line will likely come down to price.  Pradaxa will initially be too expensive for people who do not have prescription drug coverage.  For those who have insurance, it will still likely be a hefty copay but hopefully the prices should improve over time.  I have personally called for pricing of the drug and will post the quotes in the next article:

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

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!

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

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!

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