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New Anticoagulant Pill Works Well in Trial
Date:6/17/2009

Lower doses safe and effective after heart attack and stroke

WEDNESDAY, June 17 (HealthDay News) -- The new anti-clotting pill rivaroxaban (Xarelto) lowers the risk of stroke, heart attack and death in patients who have had a heart attack or suffer from unstable angina, a new trial shows.

Rivaroxaban is a pill that blocks factor Xa, which is involved in blood clotting. In earlier studies, the drug was effective in preventing venous thromboembolism (blood clots in the legs) after orthopedic surgery, although some increased risk in bleeding episodes was seen. In this phase II trial, researchers tested the safety and efficacy of the drug at various doses.

"The use of an oral factor Xa inhibitor in patients stabilized after an acute coronary syndrome increases bleeding in a dose-dependent manner, and might reduce major ischemic outcomes," said lead researcher Dr. Jessica L. Mega, from the Cardiovascular Division at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. "On the basis of these observations, a phase III study of low-dose rivaroxaban as adjunctive therapy in these patients is underway."

The report is published in the June 17 online edition of The Lancet.

In March, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted 15-2 that rivaroxaban, a long-sought alternative to commonly used blood thinners that have to be injected and are tricky to monitor, had benefits that outweighed its bleeding risks. Although the FDA is not bound by the panel's decision, it typically follows suit on these recommendations.

For the study, Mega's group treated 3,491 patients who had had heart attacks or unstable angina with either aspirin or aspirin plus the anti-clotting drug clopidogrel (Plavix).

The patients were then randomly assigned to a placebo or rivaroxaban, at doses ranging from 5 milligrams to 20 milligrams a day. The researchers looked for any significant bleeding and deaths, heart attacks and
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