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The anticoagulant dabigatran etexilate (Pradaxa) has been licensed in the UK in patients who have had a hip or knee replaced.
Hip or knee replacement increases patients’ risk of suffering a blood clot for about six weeks after the operation.
Every year, clots kill 25,000 men and women in hospitals across England.
Pradaxa, made by Germany’s Boehringer Ingelheim, is said to be the first new oral pill anticoagulant in the UK for 50 years since the introduction of warfarin.
Warfarin must be monitored to ensure it does not thin the blood too much but Pradaxa needs no such checks.
Trials have also shown that Pradaxa is just as effective as heparin, which is given by injection.
UK drugs watchdog the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is appraising Pradaxa for widespread use on the NHS but in the meantime doctors will be able to prescribe it at their discretion.
Judy O’Sullivan, cardiac nurse at UK charity the British Heart Foundation, commented: “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.”
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