Dr. Jerrold Levy, Professor of Anesthesiology and Co-Director of the Cardiothoracic ICU, was recently quoted in a Reuters article about an antidote that can reverse the effects of blood thinners in an emergency.
Xarelto (from Bayer AG and Johnson & Johnson) and Eliquis (sold by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer) are considered safer and more convenient alternatives for preventing blood clots and strokes than warfarin. However, many doctors hold off on prescribing these blood thinners because of how challenging it is to quickly restore normal clotting for patients in need of emergency surgery or to stop a major bleeding episode.
Recently this month, small drugmaker Portola Pharmaceuticals (located in San Francisco, CA) has applied for U.S. approval of a drug called andexanet alfa that rapidly reverses the effect of Xarelto and Eliquis. It is expected to enter the market in 2016.
Dr. Levy predicts that all hospitals will stock the Portola antidote, saying, “It increases the safety margin.” The reversal agent may enhance doctor comfort levels and could be an important consideration for physicians when switching patients from warfarin to either Xarelto or Eliquis.