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New blood clot drug has less side-effects than warfarin, study suggests

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Patients at risk of developing blood clots could soon be treated with a new drug, which has been found to have less serious side effects in a trial.

Currently, patients are given warfarin, a blood thinning drug, if they are considered to be susceptible to lung clots, heart attacks or strokes. However, they have to be constantly monitored to ensure they do not overdose, and there are risks of excessive bleeding. The drug is also not compatible with some other medicines, and with certain foods like grapefruit and green vegetables.

In comparison, dabigatran capsules, which have undergone a major trial, have been found to have none of these side effects. They were shown to be equally as effective as warfarin against venous thromboembolism (VTE), and also lessen the need to monitor patients so closely.

Trial leader Professor Sam Schulman, from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, said: “We are excited by these findings and feel that they will change the standard of care for venous thromboembolism, which affects a large number of our patients.

“This study found that dabigatran is a safe and effective anticoagulant that does not require the routine monitoring and dose adjustments that are necessary with warfarin.”

The results were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology in New Orleans, US. They are also reported on the New England Journal of Medicine’s website.

Boehringer Ingelheim hopes to launch the drug under the brand name Pradaxa in the UK next summer.

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