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NICE backs new drug for preventing potentially fatal blood clots

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The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has approved the anti-clotting drug dabigatran (Pradaxa) as an option for treating and preventing deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.

The drug, manufactured by Boehringer Ingelheim, has been approved in final guidance by NICE as an alternative to warfarin for treating adults.

Patients with suspected DVT or PE are generally treated immediately with anticoagulants, most commonly with injections of low molecular weight heparin. When the diagnosis has been confirmed, this is overlapped with an oral anticoagulant such as warfarin.

The usual length of treatment in UK practice is three months or more. However, people who are at high risk of having another blood clot may be given life-long treatment with anticoagulants to prevent further episodes.

Professor Carole Longson, director of the NICE health technology evaluation centre, said: “For many people, using warfarin can be difficult because of the need for frequent tests to see if the blood is clotting properly, and having to adjust the dose of the drug if it is not.

Professor Carole Longson

Professor Carole Longson

“Dabigatran represents a potential benefit for many people who have had a DVT or PE, particularly those who have risk factors for recurrence of a blood clot and who therefore need longer term treatment,” she said.

“We are pleased, therefore, to be able to recommend dabigatran as a cost-effective option for treating DVT and PE and preventing further episodes in adults,” she added.

Dabigatran costs £65.90 for a 60 capsule pack of the 150mg or 110mg doses and costs £2.20 per day of treatment. Costs may vary in different settings because of negotiated procurement discounts.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • My understanding of these drugs is limited, I will admit, but there is no method of reversal if a patient has a bleed in the brain for example. Patients on warfarin can be easily reversed with vit K and agents like Beriplex or even as a last resort fresh frozen plasma. Having patients on these new novel anticoagulants leaves me feeling uneasy.

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