Yesterday, the FDA agreed that Pradaxa should become available to patients with atrial fibrillation (afib) here in the US as well. Pradaxa is an anticoagulant or “blood-thinner” that helps to significantly reduce the risk of stroke in afib.
Patients and cardiologists have been longing for a drug to replace Coumadin for many years. Coumadin (warfarin) is a very old drug that was used as rat poison originally and then converted to a pill form to prevent strokes in certain heart patients. Coumadin has significant bleeding risks and needs to be monitored with blood checks every few days to at least once a month. There are a ton of interactions for Coumadin as well which makes it difficult to adequately control the levels in some patients.
The newly-approved Pradaxa does not have as many bleeding risks and does not require frequent monitoring. Essentially it could be the answer to cardiology’s prayers…or will it? The biggest obstacle to prescribing Pradaxa once it is officially in the pharmacy will be PRICE. Currently, the pills cost $8 to $12 per day in other countries. The reason it costs so much is because physicians use Pradaxa for short-term conditions abroad rather than for long-term use like in atrial fibrillation. Hopefully, the manufacturers will cut the cost dramatically so that a majority of the patients can afford it!