Possible New Lease On Life For Two Cardiology Drugs From Merck And J&J Reply

Early next year an FDA panel will review a new drug from Merck and a new indication for Xarelto (rivaroxaban), Johnson & Johnson’s highly successful new oral anticoagulant. Both drugs have had a rocky road getting to this stage and their success is by no means assured, but the announcement of the meeting of the FDA’s Cardiovascular and Renal Drugs Advisory Committee suggests that the companies have made progress resolving earlier problems.

Merck’s new drug application for vorapaxar (Zontivity is the proposed trade name) will be discussed on January 15 for the proposed indication of reduction of atherothrombotic events in patients with a history of myocardial infarction (MI).

On January 16 the panel will discuss the supplemental new drug application for J&J’s Xarelto (rivaroxaban) to reduce the risk of thrombotic cardiovascular events in patients in the first 90 days after suffering acute coronary syndrome.

Click here to read the full story on Forbes.

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Boston Scientific May Face A Tough FDA Panel Reply

On Wednesday the FDA’s Circulatory System Devices Panel will once again review Boston Scientific’s Watchman left atrial appendage closure device for the prevention of stroke in atrial fibrillation patients (click here for the meeting materials). The panel will be the latest chapter in the long and contentious story of the Watchman. In 2010 the FDA issued a complete response letter and earlier this year a scandal broke out when the American College of Cardiology cancelled a prestigious late-breaking clinical trial presentation of the PREVAIL trial after the company broke an embargo by giving trial results to investors.

Wells Fargo analyst Lawrence Biegelsen predicts that the panel will be “contentious” but that ultimately the device will be approved next year. Although the trial missed one of its three c0-primary endpoints, the FDA reviewers emphasis on “the totality of the data” suggests a more benign FDA perspective, he writes.

One knowledgeable observer, Sanjay Kaul, who has served on several FDA panels, thinks the panel will indeed be contentious….

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

Sanjay Kaul
Sanjay Kaul

 

Large Study Finds Favorable Risk-Benefit Profile For The New Anticoagulants Reply

A very large new meta-analysis finds a favorable risk-benefit for the new oral anticoagulant drugs in the setting of atrial fibrillation. The findings, published online in the Lancet, were remarkably consistent for all four of the new agents which have been fighting to replace warfarin, which was the only oral anticoagulant available for decades until the arrival of the new agents. Although warfarin is inexpensive, it has numerous interactions with other drugs and foods and requires regular monitoring and dose adjustments. The new agents can be taken once or twice a day and do not require dose changes.

Christian Ruff and colleagues combined data from the nearly 72,000 patients randomized in the four large mega-trials: RE-LY, which studied dabigatran (Pradaxa, Boehringer-Ingelheim); ROCKET AF, which studied rivaroxaban (Xarelto, Johnson & Johnson); ARISTOTLE, which studied apixaban (Eliquis, Pfizer and BristolMyers Squibb); and ENGAGE-AF-TIMI 48, which studied edoxaban (Daiichi Sankyo).

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

Disappointing Results with Dabigatran for Mechanical Valves 1

Despite being more durable than bioprosthetic valves, mechanical heart valves are often not chosen because of the requirement for lifelong anticoagulant therapy. It has been hoped that the newer generation of oral anticoagulants might eventually replace warfarin, making anticoagulation more tolerable and better accepted, since these agents don’t require continuous monitoring and have much fewer serious interactions with other drugs and food. So far, however, there has been no convincing demonstration that the the newer agents are as safe and effective as warfarin for this indication.

RE-ALIGN was a phase 2 dose-validation study of dabigatran in patients with mechanical heart valves. Results of the trial were presented at the European Society of Cardiology meeting in Amsterdam and published simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine.  Patients in the trial were randomized to dabigatran or warfarin.

After 252 patients had been randomized, the trial was stopped early due to an increase in thromboembolic and bleeding events in the dabigatran group:

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

Positive Results for New Anticoagulant From Daiichi Sankyo Reply

A new entrant in the growing oral anticoagulant field shows promise for the treatment of venous thromboembolism (VTE) and pulmonary embolism (PE). The drug, edoxaban, is a new, once-daily Factor Xa inhibitor with a rapid onset of action that is under development by Daiichi Sankyo. Results of the Hokusai-VTE trial were presented at the European Society of Cardiology meeting in Amsterdam and published simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The Hokusai-VTE investigators randomized 4921 patients with VTE and 3319 patients with PE to either warfarin or edoxaban. The trial differed from some earlier trials with new oral anticoagulants in that patients were treated following a lead-in period with heparin. In addition, patients were treated for as short as three months or as long as a year at the discretion of the physician, though patients were followed for a full year. Patients with low body weight or renal impairment received a half dose of edoxaban. The investigators said the design was intended to reflect the full spectrum of conditions clinicians see in real life.

Click here to read the full story on Forbes.

 

 

Bruise Control: Continued Warfarin Beats Heparin Bridging During Device Implantation 1

Many patients receiving an ICD or a pacemaker are already receiving oral anticoagulants. Current guidelines recommend replacement of the oral anticoagulant with the temporary use of heparin as a bridging strategy. Now a new study, BRUISE CONTROL (Bridge or Continue Coumadin for Device Surgery Randomized Controlled Trial), offers convincing evidence that this strategy is not beneficial and, in fact, results in an increase in device-pocket hematoma. Results of the trial were presented today at the Heart Rhythm Society meeting in Denver and published simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine.

A group of mostly Canadian investigators randomized 681 patients undergoing ICD or pacemaker implantation with an annual risk for thromboembolic events greater than 5% to either heparin bridging or continued warfarin. The trial was terminated early after a prespecified interim analysis by the data and safety monitoring board. The primary outcome — clinically significant device-pocket hematoma, which the investigators defined as a hematoma that led to prolonged hospitalization, interruption of anticoagulation, or hematoma evacuation — was significantly reduced in the continued-warfarin group, as were all three components of the endpoint:

Primary outcome: 3.5% with continued warfarin versus 16% with heparin bridging (RR 0.19, CI 0.10-0.36, p<0.001).

Click here to read the full story on Forbes.

 

Anticoagulation Update: New Agent For Urgent Anticoagulation Reversal, Pradaxa Label Revised 1

Here are two small but important changes in the anticoagulation field:

FDA approves new product for urgent reversal of anticoagulation. 

Pradaxa label gains boxed warning.

 

Click here to read the full story on Forbes.

 

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Rivaroxaban Effective In Medically Ill Patients But At High Bleeding Cost Reply

The recent arrival of novel oral anticoagulants has provided important new options for venous thromboembolism (VTE) treatment and prevention. New indications for these drugs have been granted for patients with atrial fibrillation and following orthopedic surgery. But an additional indication, for acutely ill medical patients at risk for VTE, does not appear likely in the near future, as a new trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that one of these novel drugs, though effective at preventing VTE, also resulted in a significant increase in bleeding risk.

In the Multicenter, Randomized, Parallel Group Efficacy and Safety Study for the Prevention of Venous Thromboembolism in Hospitalized Acutely Ill Medical Patients Comparing Rivaroxaban with Enoxaparin (MAGELLAN), first presented at the American College of Cardiology meeting in 2011, more than 8,000 medically ill patients were randomized to subcutaneous enoxaparin for 1o days or oral rivaroxaban for 35 days.

Click here to read the full post in Forbes.

Two Experts Help Sort Out The New Generation Of Anticoagulants Reply

Don’t miss this very practical discussion about the new generation of anticoagulants and the short term loan costs to cover them over on CardioExchange. Here are a few excerpts.

Christian Thomas Ruff:

I believe the addition of the 3 currently approved novel anticoagulants (dabigatran, rivaroxaban, and apixaban) will eventually translate into a greater proportion of eligible patients being treated; it certainly has in my practice…

Although I think it is important to continue to develop reversal agents for the novel anticoagulants, I don’t think the lack of such an agent is sufficient reason to avoid using a novel anticoagulant.

I think that price is one of the most important factors that has hindered uptake of the novel agents. Although these drugs may well be “cost-effective” in complicated analyses that focused on the costs and benefits to society at large, it is the out of pocket expense for the drugs that really matters to patients…

Andrew E. Epstein:

 It is highly unlikely that a direct comparison of the new anticoagulants will ever be done. Thus, we will have to choose between one or another based on pharmacokinetics, convenience, and perhaps formulary availability. Substudy analyses are also important…

I am concerned that although the elderly often have the most to gain from the new anticoagulants, they are also the patients at greatest risk for bleeding, especially if renal function is labile with drugs cleared by the kidneys. For such patients, warfarin should be considered.

Pradaxa To Be Contraindicated In Patients With Mechanical Heart Valves 1

Boehringer Ingelheim is starting to inform physicians about a new contraindication for its oral anticoagulant drug Pradaxa (dabigatran). The company has told investigators in trials utilizing dabigatran that it will shortly be sending a “Dear Doctor Letter,” also known as a Direct Healthcare Professional Communication (DHPC), to healthcare professionals. The letter will inform physicians that Pradaxa is now contraindicated in patients with mechanical heart valves. The change was based on a recent decision of the FDA, BI told its investigators.

The FDA action follows a similar decision by the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency, which announced last week that it had recommended that Pradaxa be contraindicated in patients with prosthetic heart valves.

Both the FDA and the CHMP actions appear to be based on findings from the RE-ALIGN trial in patients with mechanical heart valves, which Boehringer Ingelheim announced last week had been stopped prematurely. (Click here for the CardioBrief story.As reported here in October, the company had previously terminated one arm of the study after an interim review of the data by the trial’s Data Safety Monitoring Board

One cardiologist who is a dabigatran investigator told CardioBrief that the label change

is consistent with the findings in Re-Align, although I wish it were presented and published in a peer reviewed journal. I do understand the urgency on behalf of the FDA to ensure that the use does not stray beyond its labeling for A-fib given both the prospective, randomized data from Re-Align and case reports of strokes on Pradaxa with mechanical valves. I don’t think this is the final word on Pradaxa (or other new generation anticoagulants), but if we are to use them, the doses will undoubtedly be different, and presumably higher, than the doses used for A-fib. The question is whether one can find a dose that prevents thromboembolic strokes with the new generation anticoagulants at an acceptable level of bleeding. It’s also worth noting that they did not recommend Pradaxa in patients with bioprosthetic valves, but didn’t absolutely contraindicate it. Yet.