New oral anticoagulants: are coagulation units still required?
Thrombosis Journal, January 2014
Chronic antithrombotic therapy involves the use of anticoagulants, antiplatelets given either as monotherapy or in combination for the prevention of thrombotic complications. The most feared and sometimes fatal complication with this therapy is bleeding. It should be considered a "golden rule" that a drug or combination of drugs that maximizes efficiency (decreased thromboembolic risk) will probably be less safe (increased risk of bleeding), and this holds true either for single therapy or during combined therapy. The chances of bleeding indicated by risk tables can be useful but show only a snapshot, and the biological, social, environmental, and drug changes and therapeutic adherence also determine changes in the risk of thrombosis and bleeding. Bleeding is an eventuality that occurs in places of "locus minoris resistentiae," and the results of careful phase 3 studies thus cannot be completely predictive of outcomes when a medication is introduced on the pharmaceutical market. With the use of warfarin, the International Normalized Ratio (INR) that has been established to indicate adequately balanced therapy is between 2.0 and 3.0. With the new oral anticoagulants, the pharmaceutical companies emphasize that it is not necessary to monitor anticoagulant effects. In studies with different doses of new oral anticoagulants, however, incidence of clinically significant bleeding complications have been directly related to the doses. Therefore, therapeutic excesses can condition bleeding risk and therapeutic limitation can increase thrombotic risk, especially when short-acting drugs such as the new oral anticoagulants are used. Hence, it is imperative to establish an appropriate method for monitoring new oral anticoagulants, setting levels of safety and effectiveness through periodic dosage and monitoring of their anticoagulant effects. Therefore, we still recommend the use of anticoagulation units for monitoring during treatment with the new oral anticoagulants.
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