News Friday March 30, 2012

New drug approved to reduce risk of blood clots

A new once-a-day medication has been approved in order to reduce the chances of blood clots in patients with irregular heartbeats.

Rivaroxaban offers another option for patients taken Warfarin, which up until recently was the only drug available to treat the condition and can have some negative side effects.

There are 1.2 million people currently suffering from atrial fibrillation (AF) in the UK, a condition which makes the heart to beat faster causing the blood to form clots. To avoid this, many patients take a daily dose of the blood thinner Warfarin, a rat poison which has been used as an anticoagulant since the 1950s.

Taking Warfarin every day can make the blood run thinner than it should, causing potential problems with excessive bleeding from cuts, for example. To avoid this, patients are regularly monitored by doctors, which can cause a disruption to their daily lives.

Despite the inconveniences of Warfarin, many patients may continue to take it, as the cost (£1 a day) is an attractive prospect compared to the £2.10 a day which Rivaroxaban will cost and the £2.50 they are currently charged for the other alternative, Pradaxa, which has to be taken twice a day.

With two new anti-clotting medications on the market, patients suffering from conditions such as AF will have the option of finding a treatment more suitable for them, rather than sticking to a drug which can have negative consequences on their life.

A spokesman from National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), which approved the new drugs, explained that Warfarin was not beneficial to all patients, as some people find it difficult to maintain an appropriate level of clotting. The new medications will offer more choices to both patients and GPs.

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