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Xarelto vs. Warfarin – A Side-By-Side Comparison
For decades, people needing a blood thinner had only one option, warfarin (marketed under the brand name of Coumadin). In recent years, however, a new generation of anti-coagulants such as Xarelto (along with Pradaxa) have entered the market to challenge warfarin’s supremacy. Here is a look at how Xarelto stacks up against warfarin.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved warfarin in 1954. It is primarily used to prevent strokes in people with atrial fibrillation, people who have mechanical heart valves, and others who have blood clots in their legs (known as deep vein thrombosis). Doctors also prescribe it for patients who have suffered from a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot that has traveled to the lungs. Warfarin is an effective, time-tested drug but it is not without its drawbacks.
One main drawback is the fact that it can be difficult for a physician to determine the correct dosage for a patient. If too much is given, a patient’s risk for potentially dangerous bleeding can increase. If too little is prescribed patients will remain at risk for a stroke. Another drawback is that patients must have blood tests performed monthly. They also need to closely monitor their intake of vitamin K, known as “the blood clotting vitamin.” Foods rich in vitamin K include kale, spinach, parsley, romaine and green leaf lettuce. Too much vitamin K can render warfarin ineffective.
Xarelto was approved by the FDA to treat patients with deep vein thrombosis as well as pulmonary embolisms. While doses can vary according to a particular patient’s needs, the typical dosage is 20 milligrams taken once a day, usually with an evening meal. Marketers of Xarelto proclaim that the drug’s main advantage is that patients taking it do not have to undergo regular monitoring, as do patients taking warfarin. Xarelto, according to the FDA, is similar to warfarin in its ability to prevent strokes from occurring.
The primary danger with Xarelto – and one that has led to several Xarelto lawsuits across the country – is the fact that there is no known antidote for the drug. This means that if a patient has an uncontrolled bleeding episode a doctor will be unable to stop it. A patient on warfarin can be given high doses of vitamin K to stop bleeding, but this option is not available for Xarelto patients.]
What is the Difference Between Xarelto and Warfarin?
The main difference between Xarelto and Warfarin as blood thinners and anticoagulant medications is Xarelto permanently disables the patient’s clotting ability while patients on Warfarin can be given clotting agents in the event of a bleeding event to stop from bleeding out. If a patient on Xarelto starts hemorrhaging there is nothing doctors or medication can do to stop it, so it can be fatal.