Warfarin in decline, alternatives on the Up?
Pulse magazine is reporting that GPs are increasingly prescribing the newer anticoagulant alternatives to warfarin for the prevention of stroke, although their uptake has been slower than expected due to cost concerns.
An analysis of NHS primary care prescribing data for the past three years shows a fourteen-fold increase in the use of the newer anticoagulants dabigatran, rivaroxaban and apixaban in 2012, compared with 2011.
There was also a 9% increase in the use of warfarin from 2011 to 2012, leading experts to conclude that newer anticoagulants are being reserved for patients who are unsuitable for warfarin.
Pulse reported last year that following the NICE approval of dabigatran in March for certain patients with atrial fibrillation, CCGs put restrictions in place to limit use of the drug, with some warning its use as an alternative to warfarin could ramp up primary care drug budgets by as much as 20%.
This looks to have put a lid on demand, alongside concerns about the safety profile of some of the newer alternatives.
The figures from the NHS Information Centre Prescribing and Primary Care Services show that the total number of NHS prescriptions in 2012 for warfarin rose to 10.2 million prescriptions dispensed last year, compared with 9.4 million in 2011.
The total prescribed items for dabigatran – including those prescribed in patients with atrial fibrillation and venous thromboembolism – went up from around 3,200 in 2011, to 48,300 in 2012. Prescriptions for rivaroxaban and apixaban also rose, but their use remains much lower than that of dabigatran.
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