Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Experimental drug could replace burdensome anti-stroke treatment warfarin

An experimental blood thinner called rivaroxaban is at least as good at preventing strokes as the old warhorse warfarin, which has been used for decades in people with erratic heartbeats, researchers said Monday. The medicine also sharply reduces the risk of major bleeding that is seen with warfarin.

Rivaroxaban and the freshly approved Pradaxa offer alternatives to the widely used warfarin, which frequently has unforeseeable interactions with food and people of certain genetic types and requires monthly laboratory tests to ensure safety.

An estimated 2.3 million Americans suffer from atrial fibrillation, in which the heart beats erratically and cannot pump blood effectively, causing blood clots to form. Most people with atrial fibrillation could benefit from the new drugs, experts said, and analysts estimate the market for drugs in this class could top $20 billion a year.

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