A Simpler Treatment for Blood Clots

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Venous thromboembolism may be safely treated with apixaban only

July 19, 2013 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

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(dailyRx News) Patients with blood clots may be able to cut the number of medications they have to take in half. While blood clots are usually treated with two medications, new research suggests that one treatment may be just as effective and safe in treating them. A recent study found that apixaban (Eliquis), an anti-blood clotting pill, was just as successful in treating blood clots as the two standard medications that patients usually take.

These findings could make treatment simpler for patients with blood clots, according to the researchers of this study. 

"Speak to your doctor about treatment options for blood clots."

For this study, Giancarlo Agnelli, MD, from the Internal and Cardiovascular Medicine-Stroke Unit at the University of Perugia in Perugia, Italy, led a team of researchers to see if apixaban would be as effective and safe in treating venous thromboembolism as the two medications patients typically take, enoxaparin (Lovenox) and warfarin (Coumadin). Enoxaparin is a blood thinner that must be injected under the skin and warfarin is another anti-blood clotting medication that can be swallowed.

Venous thromboembolism is a medical condition where blood clots form in different areas of the body.

The researchers performed a six-month long clinical trial with 5,395 patients who had venous thromboembolism. These patients were split into two groups. The first group had 2,609 people who received a fixed dose of apixaban. The second group had 2,635 people who received fixed doses of the standard treatment (enoxaparin and warfarin).

The researchers followed up with patients seven times during the study period and once after the study ended to see if any of them developed venous thromboembolism again. The researchers also measured the amount of bleeding to compare the safety of apixaban to the standard treatment.

The researchers found that 2.3 percent of patients in the apixaban group experienced venous thromboembolism again compared to 2.7 percent of patients in the standard treatment group.

They also found that 4.3 percent of patients in the apixaban group experienced major bleeding while 9.7 percent of patients in the standard treatment group experienced major bleeding.

The study authors concluded that apixaban was just as effective in treating venous thromboembolism as the standard treatment, and it led to a 56 percent decrease in overall bleeding.

These findings suggest that patients with venous thromboembolism may be able to safely and effectively simplify their treatment by switching to apixaban. However, no patient should stop taking or switch medications without first consulting a doctor.

This study was published July 1 in The New England Journal of Medicine.

This study was funded by Pfizer and Bristol Myers Squibb.

The following study authors declared potential conflicts of interest: Giancarlo Agnelli (lead author), Harry Buller, Alexander Cohen, Alexander Gallus, and Gary Raskob.