17 December 2014

NICE greenlights dabigatran for treatment of blood clots

Patients at risk of recurrent blood clots can now be offered dabigatran (Pradaxa) as an alternative to warfarin, says NICE.

In latest guidance, NICE recommends the drug as an option for treating and preventing recurrent deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism in adults.

Around 1 in every 1000 people in the UK is affected by DVT, a condition that increases in risk with age. Further risk factors include a previous DVT or pulmonary embolism, obesity and the presence of comorbidities such as heart disease.

In current practice, people with suspected DVT or a pulmonary embolism are generally treated immediately with anticoagulant drugs, most commonly with injections of low molecular weight heparin.

When the diagnosis has been confirmed, it is overlapped with an oral anticoagulant, such as warfarin. The usual length of treatment is for 3 months or more, though this can be life-long in certain patients to prevent further episodes.

However, some patients find warfarin inconvenient due to the need for careful monitoring, and regular blood tests which require frequent clinic visits to ensure the blood’s clotting properties remain within acceptable limits.

Following guidance published today, patients can now be offered dabigatran etexilate to prevent recurring DVT and pulmonary embolism in adults.

Professor Carole Longson, NICE Health Technology Evaluation Centre Director, said: “For many people, using warfarin can be difficult because of the need for frequent tests to see if the blood is clotting properly, and having to adjust the dose of the drug if it is not.

“The Appraisal Committee felt that dabigatran represents a potential benefit for many people who have had a DVT or a pulmonary embolism, particularly those who have risk factors for recurrence of a blood clot and who therefore need longer term treatment.

“We are pleased, therefore, to be able to recommend dabigatran as a cost-effective option for treating DVT and pulmonary embolism and preventing further episodes in adults.”