A novel blood thinner recently approved by the FDA, dabigatran (Pradaxa), has been rapidly adopted into clinical practice, yet thus far has had little impact on improving treatment rates for atrial fibrillation. This is according to a new study led by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health that examined national trends in oral anticoagulant use. They found that despite rapid adoption of dabigatran for the treatment of atrial fibrillation, a large proportion of patients-two in five-did not receive oral anticoagulant therapy. In addition, although the majority of dabigatran utilization was for its FDA-approved indication, atrial fibrillation, an increasing proportion of use was for off-label indications such as venous thromboembolism. The results are featured in the September 2012 issue of Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.
"Dabigatran has been briskly adopted into clinical practice since its October 2010 Food and Drug Administration approval for the prevention of stroke among patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation," said G. Caleb Alexander, MD, MS, lead author of the study and a research scientist in the Bloomberg School's Department of Epidemiology. "Between 2007 and 2011, use of the oral anticoagulant warfarin declined from approximately 2.1 million quarterly physician visits to approximately 1.6 million visits while since its release, dabigatran use increased from 3.1 percent to 18.9 percent of physician visits where an oral anticoagulant was used."