International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care


Ximelagatran: A new type of oral anticoagulant

Lisa Kwok a1, Dana Molckovsky a2 and Michel Boucher a3
a1 Fairview Family Health Network
a2 AstraZeneca Canada Inc.
a3 Canadian Coordinating Office for Health Technology Assessment


Objectives: This assessment sought to evaluate the comparative benefit and adverse effect profile of ximelagatran, as well as the clinical issues surrounding its potential use.

Methods: We performed a Dialog OneSearch across BIOSIS Previews, EMBASE, MEDLINE, PASCAL, and ToxFile to identify published literature. PubMed and The Cochrane Library were also searched. Gray literature was identified by searching a variety of Web sites of health technology assessment and related agencies and their associated databases. The manufacturer's Canadian office, AstraZeneca, was invited to submit information.

Results: Ximelagatran is the first oral agent from a new class of anticoagulants called direct thrombin inhibitors. Other oral anticoagulants require routine blood monitoring; ximelagatran does not. Ximelagatran has been evaluated in the areas of venous thromboembolism management, particularly after orthopedic surgery, and stroke prevention in patients with atrial fibrillation. Overall, ximelagatran's efficacy appears comparable to other anticoagulants in these clinical settings. Also, bleeding rates were generally similar between ximelagatran and comparators but, as for warfarin, bleeding risk increases with higher ximelagatran doses. In addition, there is no specific antidote to help manage ximelagatran-induced bleeding. Finally, significantly more patients exposed to long-term ximelagatran developed elevated liver enzymes more than three times the upper normal limit, compared with patients on comparator anticoagulants.

Conclusions: Given its apparent simplicity of use, ximelagatran carries the potential to replace, at least in part, anticoagulants currently used in the management of venous thromboembolism or for preventing stroke in atrial fibrillation patients. However, the safety of ximelagatran will not be fully known without further evaluation and surveillance for potential liver toxicity. There is also a need to evaluate its use in special populations such as patients with renal failure and patients using several concurrent medications.

Key Words: Anticoagulant; Cardiovascular event; Direct thrombin inhibitor; Venous thromboembolism; Ximelagatran.