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Alternative to warfarin is as effective in preventing stroke

August 10, 2011|By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • A new drug can reduce the risk of stroke from atrial fibrillation.
A new drug can reduce the risk of stroke from atrial fibrillation. (Jose J. Santos / Los Angeles…)

Warfarin is traditionally prescribed for people with atrial fibrillation to reduce the risk of a blood clot and a subsequent stroke. However, warfarin requires monitoring with blood tests because food and other drugs can interfere with the drug. Recently, two drugs, dabigatran (Pradaxa) and rivaroxaban (Xarelto), were approved as alternatives to warfarin.

In a study released Wednesday, researchers said they found rivaroxaban was as effective as warfarin. The study, which compared 188 people taking rivaroxaban and 241 taking warfarin, found no major differences in the risk of major bleeding between the groups. The study was funded by Johnson & Johnson and Bayer, the manufacturers of rivaroxaban.

Both dabigatran and rivaroxaban are effective substitutes for warfarin and are simpler to use, said the authors of an editorial accompanying the study. But doctors and patients need to consider that studies so far have not addressed how to treat a life-threatening hemorrhage linked to use of the drugs.

The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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