The FDA has finally approved apixaban (Eliquis, Bristol Myers Squibb and Pfizer) to reduce the risk of stroke and systemic embolism in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation. The action comes after the widely-anticipated drug had been plagued by delays at the FDA but well before the PDUFA deadline of March 17, 2013. Eliquis is the latest member of the new generation of oral anticoagulants, which also includes dabigatran (Pradaxa, Boehringer Ingelheim) and rivaroxaban (Xarelto, Johnson & Johnson).
The FDA said that apixaban should not be taken by patients with prosthetic heart valves or by patients with AF caused by a heart valve problem. (Recently the FDA added a contraindication to the dabigatran label against using the drug in patients with mechanical heart valves.) The FDA said that the most serious risk associated with apixaban, as with other anticoagulants, is bleeding, including life-threatening and fatal bleeding. Patients taking apixaban will receive a patient Medication Guide. The FDA is advising health care professionals to counsel patients about the signs of symptoms of possible bleeding.
The FDA approval was based largely on the results of the highly positive ARISTOTLE trial which found that apixaban was superior to warfarin in AF patients. The FDA will likely allow BMS and Pfizer to claim that apixaban is superior to warfarin, as the press release states that “patients taking Eliquis had fewer strokes than those who took warfarin.”
Here is the FDA press release:
FDA approves Eliquis to reduce the risk of stroke, blood clots in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved the anti-clotting drug Eliquis (apixaban), an oral tablet used to reduce the risk of stroke and dangerous blood clots (systemic embolism) in patients with atrial fibrillation that is not caused by a heart valve problem.
Atrial fibrillation, one of the most common types of abnormal heart rhythm, is an abnormal, irregular, and rapid beating of the heart in which the heart’s two upper chambers (atria) do not contract properly, allowing blood clots to form in them. These clots can break off and travel to the brain or other parts of the body.
“Blood clots in the heart can cause a disabling stroke if the clots travel to the brain,” said Norman Stockbridge, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Division of Cardiovascular and Renal Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Anti-clotting drugs lower the risk of having a stroke by helping to prevent blood clots from forming.”
The safety and efficacy of Eliquis in treating patients with atrial fibrillation not caused by cardiac valve disease were studied in a clinical trial of more than 18,000 patients that compared Eliquis with the anti-clotting drug warfarin. In the trial, patients taking Eliquis had fewer strokes than those who took warfarin.
Patients with prosthetic heart valves should not take Eliquis nor should patients with atrial fibrillation that is caused by a heart valve problem. These patients were not studied in clinical trial. As with other FDA-approved anti-clotting drugs, bleeding, including life-threatening and fatal bleeding, is the most serious risk with Eliquis. There is no agent that can reverse the anti-coagulant effect of Eliquis.
Eliquis will be dispensed with a patient Medication Guide that provides instructions on its use and drug safety information. Health care professionals should counsel patients on signs and symptoms of possible bleeding.
Eliquis is manufactured Bristol-Myers Squibb Company of Princeton, N.J. and marketed by BMS and Pfizer Inc. of New York.
For more information: