A new drug, hailed as the biggest step forward in blood thinning treatment for around half a century, could benefit more than one million in the UK, researchers have said.
Trial results of dabigatran etexilate, which is marketed as Pradaxa, have shown the drug significantly reduces the risk of stroke in all patients with the heart rhythm disorder atrial fibrilation (AF).
According to the results of the trial, Pradaxa was found to be more effective than its widely used rival warfarin. Researchers also said the drug is easier to manage, reducing the likelihood of taking the wrong dose.
European regulators are expected to make a final decision in the coming months to determine how Pradaxa can be used in the country.
AF, characterised by haphazard heartbeats, is a leading risk factor for stroke and affects 1.2 million people in the UK.
Around 150,000 Britons suffer a stroke each year, 15% of which are a direct result of AF.
The trial findings were presented at the annual scientific sessions of the American College of Cardiology in New Orleans this week.
They showed that Pradaxa reduced stroke risk by between 30% and 39% in patients with three different types of AF.
Professor Martin Cowie, from the Royal Brompton Hospital, London, said: “Every year in the UK, 20,000 people have a stroke related to atrial fibrillation, a stroke that is often devastating. It is of upmost importance that AF patients are identified and measures are taken to thin their blood. There hasn’t been a new oral anticoagulant in Europe approved for more than 50 years.
“Dabigatran etexilate could provide an invaluable option for patients suffering from all AF types.”
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