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New anticoagulant for NHS welcomed

The introduction of Pradaxa (dabigatran etexilate), a novel oral anticoagulant available on the NHS from today, has been welcomed.

Pradaxa, manufactured by Boehringer Ingelheim, was approved by the European Commission last month for the prevention of venous thromboembolic events (VTE) in adults who have undergone elective total hip or total knee replacement surgery.

In response to the news that the drug was available to NHS patients, Judy O’Sullivan, cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation said:

“A safe and effective anti-clotting medicine which does not require regular monitoring will provide a significant step forward in improving care for patients at high risk of developing a blood clot.

“We look forward to seeing how Pradaxa may benefit patients who have had orthopaedic surgery, and hope that it will prove to be useful for a wider group of patients.”

The launch of the drug was also welcomed by UK thrombosis charity Lifeblood. Beverley Hunt, medical director, Lifeblood, said: “The number of deaths from VTE is nothing short of a public health emergency. The development of new drugs to treat this problem is terribly exciting. The potential benefit to the NHS is enormous.”

Hip and knee replacement surgery patients run a particularly high risk of developing VTE. According to Boehringer Ingelheim, without thromboprophylaxis, up to 60% of patients develop DVT (deep vein thrombosis), and 0.2-10% are at risk of a potential fatal pulmonary embolism.

British Heart Foundation