WEDNESDAY, Dec. 22 (HealthDay News) -- A new drug, apixaban, may be better for preventing dangerous blood clots in the legs and lungs after hip replacement surgery than a commonly used older drug, a new study finds.
Researchers in Denmark compared the two anti-clotting drugs in a head-to-head test involving about 5,400 hip replacement patients.
About 3.9 percent of patients given the older drug, enoxaparin, developed venous thromboembolism (clot in the legs), a pulmonary embolism (clot in the lungs) or died after the surgery, according to the study.
That compares to only 1.4 percent of patients given apixaban.
Apixaban is being developed by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer, which funded the Phase III trial reported in the Dec. 23 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
The company has applied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for drug approval and expects to complete the application process in the first quarter of 2011, said Christina Trank, associate director of public affairs for Bristol-Myers Squibb, headquartered in New York City.
Sanofi-Aventis makes the older drug, enoxaparin (Lovenox).
"The apixaban was superior to enoxaparin, including the total number of patients with thromboembolism and major embolism," said lead study author Dr. Michael Rud Lassen, a spine surgeon and clinical researcher at Horsholm Hospital at the University of Copenhagen.
Deep vein thrombosis is one of the most common complications after lower extremity surgery, including hip and knee replacement, explained Dr. Richard Stein, a professor of cardiology at New York University School of Medicine and a spokesman for the American Heart Association.
Clots can form in the veins of the legs, leading to chronic swelling, and a piece of the clot can break off and travel to the lungs, forming a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal.
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