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New Antidote for a Sometimes Fatal Blood Thinner

Date: November 16, 2015      Publication: Health Insider      Source: US Food and Drug Administration, Medscape       Print:

Dabigatran (Pradaxa), one of a new generation of blood thinners, has led to hundreds of fatal bleeding incidents, according to the manufacturer.

That’s because there hasn’t been an antidote. By contrast, if you’re taking the blood thinner warfarin (Coumadin) and you get a cut, your doctor can give you an antidote so that your blood can clot normally and your wound can heal. When it’s safe to do so, you can go back on warfarin.

Now the FDA has approved the first-ever antidote for Pradaxa—idarucizumab (Praxbind), an intravenous drug. The most common side effects include headache, low potassium, constipation, confusion, fever and pneumonia. Antidotes for other newer blood thinners such as rivaroxaban (Xarelto) are in development but not yet available.

The new blood thinners are more convenient than warfarin…no special dietary restrictions and no regular blood checks as you need with warfarin…but for many people, warfarin is still the best choice.

And some people with atrial fibrillation who are prescribed any of these drugs don’t need blood thinners at all.

Source: US Food and Drug Administration, Medscape and other media sources.