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New Blood Thinner Could Replace Warfarin to Fight Venous Clots
Date:12/7/2009

hringer Ingelheim, nearly 1,300 patients who had experienced a venous thromboembolism (VTE) received 150 milligrams of dabigatran in pill form twice a day. Another group of almost 1,300 patients was given warfarin, adjusted in dose to suit their particular needs.

Six months after the therapies began, 30 patients on dabigatran experienced another VTE compared to 27 patients on warfarin, for a 0.4 percent difference in risk, the authors report. Side effects such as major or minor bleeding were similar between the two groups, with slightly more bleeding events occurring in those on warfarin.

Based on the results, the authors conclude that, "a fixed dose of dabigatran is as effective as warfarin, has a safety profile that is similar to that of warfarin, and does not require laboratory monitoring."

Those optimistic findings echo those from the American Heart Association meeting in November. That study involved more than 1,800 patients in 24 countries with acute coronary syndrome -- a cluster of symptoms that might indicate a heart attack. Patients received one of four doses of dabigatran or a placebo on top of aspirin and the blood thinner Plavix.

The study found dabigatran safe in preventing blood clots in these heart patients. Researchers also saw reductions in mortality, nonfatal heart attack and stroke, although the trial was not specifically designed to look at efficacy.

"Dabigatran seems to be safe on top of dual antiplatelet therapy [meaning aspirin and Plavix]," study author Dr. Jonas Oldgren, chief physician in the department of cardiology at Uppsala University Hospital in Uppsala, Sweden, said at the time. "It has already been shown to have superior efficacy compared with warfarin."

And another trial, also presented at the AHA meeting, demonstrated that dabigatran outperformed warfarin in preventing strokes in patients with atrial fibrillation.

"Dabigatran appears to be superior to warfarin i
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