New drug shows promise for those with clotting disorders

Dec 06, 2009

A new study provides welcome news for patients with a common clotting disorder known as venous thromboembolism (VTE).

The condition is estimated to impact 62,000 Canadians and half-a-million Americans every year, and occurs when an abnormal clot forms in a vein and restricts the flow of blood, causing pain and swelling. In some cases, the clot may detach from its point of origin and travel through the heart to the lungs, causing a potentially fatal condition known as a .

Currently, patients with VTE are treated with a blood thinner known as warfarin, which has many burdensome interactions with other medications and foods and requires frequent monitoring of the dosage.

However, this study published today shows that an oral drug called dabigatran etexilate, which does not have these disadvantages, is as safe and effective as warfarin for combating VTE.

To compare the two drugs, an international team of researchers lead by Sam Schulman, a professor of medicine of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, who conducted a randomized, double-blind trial of 2,539 patients with acute VTE.

Today, Schulman is scheduled to present this study to the annual conference of the American Society of in New Orleans, LA, and the will post the study on its web site. The study will be published in the Dec. 10 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

For six months, roughly half of the patients in the trial (1,274) were given a fixed dose of 150 mg of dabigatran etexilate twice daily, while the other half (1,265 patients) were given warfarin once daily.

The improvement seen in both groups from the treatments was similar. After six months of treatment, only 2.4 percent of the dabigatran etexilate group (30 patients) and 2.1 percent of the warfarin group (27 patients) experienced recurrent VTE.

The safety of the two drugs was also comparable. In the dabigatran etexilate arm, 205 patients experienced bleeding (including 20 patients with major bleeding) versus 277 patients in the warfarin arm (including 24 with major bleeding). Other possible side effects, including death, acute coronary syndromes, and abnormalities in liver function tests, were infrequent in the two groups.

"We are excited by these findings and feel that they will change the standard of care for venous , which affects a large number of our patients," said Schulman, a physician with the thrombosis service of Hamilton Health Sciences. "This study found that dabigatran is a safe and effective anticoagulant that does not require the routine monitoring or dose adjustments that are necessary with . In other words, patients can receive the same results in a more convenient manner."

Source: McMaster University (news : web)

Explore further: Two Michigan high school students develop screening tools to detect lung and heart disease

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New blood-thinning drug safer than rat poison

Sep 29, 2009

In an article reviewed by F1000 Medicine Faculty Members Robert Ruff, Brian Olshansky and Luis Ruilope, the blood-thinner dabigatran is shown to protect against stroke, blood clotting and major bleeding as effectively as ...

Study shows experimental drug cuts stroke risk

Aug 30, 2009

(AP) -- An experimental drug reduces the stroke risk in patients with irregular heartbeats by more than three times, compared with the popular drug warfarin - but possibly at a cost, according to new research released Sunday.

Study examines long-term outcomes following blood clots

Feb 25, 2008

Patients who develop a blood clot in their legs (deep vein thrombosis) or lungs (pulmonary embolism) are at risk for experiencing another blood clot within three years, and patients with pulmonary embolism have a higher risk ...

Kidney disease affects response to blood thinner

Feb 18, 2009

Patients with reduced kidney function require lower doses of the anticoagulant drug warfarin, and may need closer monitoring to avoid serious bleeding complications, suggests a study in the April 2009 issue of the Journal of ...

Genetics determine optimal drug dose of common anticoagulant

Aug 21, 2007

Genetic testing can be used to help personalize the therapeutic dosage of warfarin, a commonly-used anticoagulant, according to research published in the September 1, 2007, issue of Blood, the journal of the American Societ ...

Recommended for you

Team untangles the biological effects of blue light

16 hours ago

Blue light can both set the mood and set in motion important biological responses. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine and School of Arts and Sciences have teased apart the ...

User comments : 0