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March 14 (Reuters) - U.S. regulators have approved an additional use of Bristol-Myers Squibb Co's blood clot preventer Eliquis, to prevent blood clots in the legs and lungs of patients who have undergone surgery to receive artificial hips or knees.
The drug is already sold in partnership with Pfizer Inc to prevent blood clots that can cause strokes in patients with atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that is most common in the elderly.
The drugmakers, in a joint release on Friday, said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had approved the new use, noting that each year in the United States there are about 719,000 total knee replacement surgeries and 332,000 hip replacements.
After such surgeries, patients are at greater risk of developing blood clots in the deep veins of the legs, which can break free and travel to the lungs, where they can be fatal.
The new approval will help Eliquis to compete with Xarelto, a similar drug from Johnson & Johnson and Bayer AG that is also approved for use after knee and hip replacements, as well as to prevent strokes among those with atrial fibrillation.
Shares of Bristol Myers were down 0.4 percent, while Pfizer shares rose 0.5 percent, both on the New York Stock Exchange.