New stroke prevention drug launched in UK

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 A new drug for stroke prevention that offers a safer and more effective alternative to warfarin has been launched in the UK.

Eliquis (apixaban) from BMS and Pfizer is available for the prevention of stroke and systemic embolism in adult patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF) and one or more risk factors such as diabetes or advanced age.

Whereas patients treated with warfarin risk serious side-effects and need frequent dosage adjustment, Eliquis is taken (in tablet form) in one of two approved doses.

AF affects 1.2 million people and causes 12,500 strokes every year in the UK.

Clinical trials have shown that Eliquis is more effective than warfarin in preventing strokes and causes less bleeding, as well as presenting less challenge in terms of monitoring.

The ARISTOTLE trial evaluated apixaban versus warfarin in 18,201 patients with non-valvular AF who were suitable for warfarin. Professor John McMurray of the Institute of Cardiovascular & Medical Sciences, University of Glasgow, said that in the study “apixaban has demonstrated superiority in the reduction of stroke and systemic embolism over warfarin together with a significant reduction in major bleeding.”

In addition, he noted, “apixaban was better tolerated than warfarin, with fewer people stopping treatment.”

Trudie Lobban, CEO of the Atrial Fibrillation Association, added: “Patients being treated with warfarin have to undergo regular blood tests. Having the choice of effective new treatments which do not require monitoring provides the option to tailor therapy to the individual patient.

“This could also help to reduce the burden on the NHS to monitor INR and the associated impact on patients, their families and carers.”

BMS developed Eliquis, and since 2007 has worked in partnership with Pfizer to promote and sell the drug.