Pradaxa and Xarelto, anticoagulant drugs that are used to treat blood clots and prevent stroke, have a brand new competitor. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just cleared the approval of Eliquis, a brand name for the generic drug apixaban.
Eliquis received government-approved endorsements in both Japan and the European Union before earning the FDA stamp of approval. The FDA approval was twice delayed in the United States due to clinical studies and unforeseen postponements.
A Next-Generation Medication
A multi-billion dollar collaboration between Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squib, Eliquis is the latest addition to a group of next-generation anticoagulant drugs. The FDA approval followed a study that compared the new drug to warfarin, a more dated blood thinner that is marketed as Coumadin and Jantoven.
Doctors will prescribe Eliquis for patients who have nonvalvular atrial fibrillation, a serious heart rhythm problem. Pradaxa, a brand name for dabigatran, was approved two years earlier for the same purpose. Xarelto or rivaroxaban treats deep vein thrombosis, a harmful clotting condition in the legs.
Blood Thinner Side Effects
As with most blood thinners, Eliquis may produce unwanted side effects such as unexpected or excessive bleeding. Although there are ways to correct these effects, there are no known antidotes for the blood thinning effects of Pradaxa, Xarelto or Eliquis.
Pradaxa has been linked to internal bleeding, heart attack and other serious conditions. As a result, some patients have filed a Pradaxa lawsuit for the damages they have suffered. To a lesser degree, Xarelto has been linked to unusual bleeding and bruising, and lawsuits have been filed in those cases.
Financial analysts think the drug could achieve sales in excess of $5.2 billion by 2020. However, the future of Eliquis will depend on the frequency and severity of bleeding complications. Doctors and researchers are working to prevent life-threatening bleeding conditions.
Other Risk Factors
The risk of bleeding increases when people take Eliquis with other drugs that have bleeding risks: aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and other anticoagulant medications. Eliquis may also interact with vitamins, herbal supplements and over-the-counter drugs.
People who take Eliquis should not stop taking the drug before talking to the doctor who prescribed it. Suddenly stopping Eliquis may cause stroke and other serious health problems.
A New Hope
Despite the risks, Eliquis and other next-generation blood thinners offer new hope for people who are using older anti-clotting medications. The newer drugs are easier to manage and require less frequent monitoring. The downside is the lack of antidotes to reverse uncontrolled bleeding. Nevertheless, Eliquis is expected to help millions of people worldwide.