The blood thinner warfarin has long been the prescription of choice that many doctors give to patients in need, but Pradaxa and Xarelto were supposed to herald a new era of options. Now doctors aren’t so sure.
According to the Huffington Post, Pradaxa, a twice daily pill from Boehringer Ingelheim is used to prevent strokes in patients with an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation, and Xarelto, a once daily pill that Johnson & Johnson developed with Bayer AG is used for the same purpose.
The drugs made a splash when the hit the scene as an alternative to warfarin, but mounting issues, including patient deaths now have top heart doctors hesitant.
“The good news is you now have an alternative to warfarin,” Dr. Alan Jacobson, director of anti-coagulation services at the Veterans Administration healthcare system in Loma Linda, California to the Huffington Post. “The bad news is you can kill a patient as easily with the new drug as you could with the old drug.”
Patients on warfarin have been known to suffer from brain hemorrhages and other dangerous bleeding, and they required close monitoring and dietary and lifestyle changes.
Pradaxa and Xarelto can cost as much as $3,000 a year, whereas warfarin can cost as little as $200. Moreover, there is no known antidote to a bleeding emergency caused by Pradaxa and Xarelto, while there is one for warfarin.
However, there may be cases where Pradaxa or Xarelto are preferable to warfarin. For example, patients so dislike warfarin’s disadvantages that 70 percent of those offered refuse to take it.
(Photo courtesy of Drugs.com)