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Drug approved to treat major killer


The UK drugs watchdog has given draft approval for a medicine designed to treat one of the leading causes of preventable hospital deaths in the country.

Venous thromboembolism (VTE) kills up to 32,000 patients in UK hospitals each year – 10% of all hospital deaths and more than all the fatalities from HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, and road traffic accidents put together.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has now given a draft recommendation for the use of oral anticoagulant Xarelto in the prevention of potentially fatal blood clots after elective hip or knee replacement surgery.

The drug’s maker, Bayer Schering Pharma, welcomed NICE’s Final Appraisal Determination (FAD). Xarelto (also known as rivaroxaban) has already been accepted by the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) for use in NHS Scotland.

Due to the invasive nature of the procedure and the reduced mobility it causes, major orthopaedic surgery is associated with a particularly high risk of VTE.

As a result, up to half of the 90,434 people undergoing hip or knee replacement every year in England could go on to develop a potentially fatal blood clot.

Consultant haematologist and medical director of Lifeblood, Professor Beverley Hunt, said: “It is terrific that NICE have reviewed Xarelto so quickly. A new highly effective oral anticoagulant will encourage the thromboprophylaxis implementation and greatly reduce the risk of hospital-acquired clots after planned major orthopaedic surgery.”

Copyright Press Association 2009


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