Saturday, October 30, 2010

Approval of new drug heralds 'momentous' advance in stroke prevention

From the Montreal Gazette:
In what Canadian doctors are calling a "momentous" advance, Health Canada has approved the first anti-clotting drug for stroke prevention since the introduction of warfarin more than half a century ago.

Pradax, or dabigatran, is expected to change practice for the treatment of atrial fibrillation, or AF, a potentially life-threatening heart rhythm disorder that causes the heart to quiver and beat chaotically. About a quarter-million Canadians suffer from AF, and the absolute numbers will grow as the population ages. One in four people over age 40 will develop AF, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

A Canadian-led international trial published this summer involving more than 18,000 patients from 44 countries found that dabigatran was superior to warfarin for reducing the risk of stroke, and also for reducing bleeding complications.

For the study, patients randomly received either dabigatran or warfarin. Two doses of dabigatran — 100 mg twice daily, or 150 mg twice daily — were tested. The higher dose of dabigatran reduced the risk of stroke by 34 per cent compared to warfarin. There was also a significant drop in the risk of bleeding into the brain, the most feared complication of warfarin. ...more

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