New Drug May Provide More Cost-Effective Stroke Prevention Than Warfarin

Michelle Brandt, Stanford University Medical Center

A newly approved drug may be a cost-effective way to prevent stroke in patients with an irregular heart rhythm - and may also offer patients better health outcomes than the commonly prescribed, but potentially risky, blood thinner warfarin. That's according to a new analysis from researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System.

"Dabigatran is the first new drug in 20 years to be approved for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation, and we wanted to see if it could be cost-effective even before it made its debut in the United States," said cardiac electrophysiologist Mintu Turakhia, MD, MAS, a VA investigator and an instructor of medicine at Stanford. Turakhia is senior author of the research that will appear Nov. 2 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

"We found that for the average patient - 65 years and older with a risk of stroke - this drug has the potential to be a cost-effective alternative to warfarin, depending on how it is priced," said first author James Freeman, MD, MPH, a cardiology fellow at Stanford.

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