Overview of the New Oral Anticoagulants: Opportunities and Challenges

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The non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants (NOACs) are replacing warfarin for many indications. These agents include dabigatran, which inhibits thrombin, and rivaroxaban, apixaban, and edoxaban, which inhibit factor Xa. All 4 agents are licensed in the United States for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation and for treatment of venous thromboembolism and rivaroxaban and apixaban are approved for thromboprophylaxis after elective hip or knee arthroplasty. The NOACs are at least as effective as warfarin, but are not only more convenient to administer because they can be given in fixed doses without routine coagulation monitoring but also are safer because they are associated with less intracranial bleeding. As part of a theme series on the NOACs, this article (1) compares the pharmacological profiles of the NOACs with that of warfarin, (2) identifies the doses of the NOACs for each approved indication, (3) provides an overview of the completed phase III trials with the NOACs, (4) briefly discusses the ongoing studies with the NOACs for new indications, (5) reviews the emerging real-world data with the NOACs, and (6) highlights the potential opportunities for the NOACs and identifies the remaining challenges.

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