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If you have suffered from atrial fibrillation, then you know that until recently there was basically only one medication available to you: warfarin. This anticoagulant helps to prevent and treat blood clots that can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke. But recently a new generation of drugs have cropped up to treat A-Fib, namely Pradaxa and Xarelto. At first they garnered a lot of attention for their efficacy with fewer side effects, and then for the problems they caused. In 2011, Pradaxa became the drug with the most associated deaths.
And now there might be a new option on the market. Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb are trying to get approval for a drug called Eliquis to prevent strokes in people that suffer from A-Fib. In trials sponsored by the drug companies, Eliquis was shown to be more effective than warfarin in reducing strokes, bleeding episodes, and death. The drug has already been approved in Europe, but it has twice been rejected by the FDA because the drug companies have not provided all the necessary data that the FDA needs for approval.
With 6 million people in the U.S. suffering from A-fib, every effort will be made to get approval this time. It is estimated that anywhere from 3 to 5 billion dollars could be made off this new drug.
But will Eliquis suffer the same problems that have plagued Pradaxa and Xarelto? None of these new drugs have developed reversal agents to administer to patients in case of bleeding. While it is thought to be the most effective of the new generations of anticoagulants, we will see if Eliquis ever makes it to market.
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