LONDON Jan 23 Britain's national health costs
watchdog has recommended Bristol-Myers Squibb and
Pfizer's anti-clotting pill Eliquis for preventing
strokes in patients with an irregular heartbeat condition called
atrial fibrillation (AF)
The draft guidance from the National Institute for Health
and Clinical Excellence (NICE) opens up a potential new market
for Eliquis, which belongs to a new class of medicines designed
to replace the decades-old blood thinner warfarin.
NICE has previously recommended it for use in Britain's
National Health Service (NHS) for preventing blood clots after
hip and knee surgery.
AF is the most common form of irregular heart beat. It
occurs when the electrical impulses controlling the heart rhythm
become disorganised, so that the heart cannot efficiently pump
blood around the body.
Around 1.2 million people in the UK suffer from AF and
experts estimate that more than 20 percent of the 130,000
strokes each year in England and Wales are due to the condition.
Eliquis competes with other clot preventers such as Xarelto
from Johnson & Johnson and Bayer, and Pradaxa
from Germany's privately-held Boehringer Ingelheim. Both these
drugs have also been approved by NICE to be made available on
Britain's taxpayer-funded NHS.
NICE said decisions about whether to start treatment with
the Eliquis drug, known generically as apixaban, should be made
after an informed discussion about its risks and benefits
compared with warfarin, Pradaxa and Xarelto.
The agency's guidance is not yet final and is open to appeal
before a final decision is communicated to the NHS.
Pfizer and BMS issued a joint statement welcoming the NICE
move, saying it "confirms the value of apixaban as a
cost-effective oral anticoagulant".