Pradaxa® (dabigatran etexilate mesylate) is a direct thrombin inhibitor anticoagulant, which became FDA-approved on October 29, 2010.
Pradaxa® reduces the risk of stroke and systemic embolism in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation. Pradaxa® is being prescribed and used to replace existing successful blood thinners like Warfarin (Coumadin), the main agent used in the United States.
Anticoagulants reduce blood clotting, which is why they are more commonly called blood thinners. Anticoagulants like Pradaxa® are most commonly used in patients with atrial fibrillation, or an irregular heartbeat. This is because atrial fibrillation increases the risk of stroke, which is many times higher in patients with an irregular heartbeat.
Here is what the FDA had to say:
(FDA) is evaluating post-marketing reports of serious bleeding events in patients taking Pradaxa (dabigatran etexilate mesylate). Bleeding that may lead to serious or even fatal outcomes is a well-recognized complication of all anticoagulant therapies. The Pradaxa drug label contains a warning about significant and sometimes fatal bleeds. In a large clinical trial (18,000 patients) comparing Pradaxa and warfarin, major bleeding events occurred at similar rates with the two drugs.FDA is working to determine whether the reports of bleeding in patients taking Pradaxa are occurring more commonly than would be expected, based on observations in the large clinical trial that supported the approval of Pradaxa.
BACKGROUND: Pradaxa is a blood thinning (anticoagulant) medication used to reduce the risk of stroke in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common type of heart rhythm abnormality.
RECOMMENDATION: At this time, FDA continues to believe that Pradaxa provides an important health benefit when used as directed and recommends that healthcare professionals who prescribe Pradaxa follow the recommendations in the approved drug label.
Patients with AF should not stop taking Pradaxa without talking to their healthcare professional. Stopping use of blood thinning medications can increase their risk of stroke. Strokes can lead to permanent disability and death.
Atrial fibrillation (AF or A-fib) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heart beat). It may cause no symptoms, but it is often associated with palpitations, fainting, chest pain, or congestive heart failure. AF increases the risk of stroke; the degree of stroke risk can be up to seven times that of the average population, depending on the presence of additional risk factors (such as high blood pressure). It may be identified clinically when taking a pulse, and the presence of AF can be confirmed with an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) which demonstrates the absence of P waves together with an irregular ventricular rate.
In AF, the normal regular electrical impulses generated by the sinoatrial node are overwhelmed by disorganized electrical impulses usually originating in the roots of the pulmonary veins, leading to irregular conduction of impulses to the ventricles which generate the heartbeat. AF may occur in episodes lasting from minutes to days ("paroxysmal"), or be permanent in nature. A number of medical conditions increase the risk of AF, particularly mitral stenosis (narrowing of the mitral valve of the heart).