Harvard Heart Letter

FDA approves antidote to anti-clotting drug

Research we're watching

For people who take anti-clotting drugs such as dabigatran (Pradaxa), one serious downside has been the rare but dangerous risk of uncontrolled bleeding in the event of an accident or urgently needed surgery. But in October, the FDA approved idarucizumab (Praxbind), a drug that quickly reverses the effects of dabigatran. Given by injection into a vein, the drug binds to dabigatran and neutralizes its effect, allowing the blood to clot normally.

Dabigatran was approved in 2010 to prevent strokes (most of which are caused by blood clots in the brain) in people with atrial fibrillation. It's also prescribed to prevent and treat venous thromboembolism. Because idarucizumab works specifically on dabigatran, it can't be used as an antidote for similar anti-clotting medications, which include rivaroxaban (Xarelto), apixaban (Eliquis), and edoxaban (Savaysa). However, an antidote that works on these drugs is under development, with approval expected within the next year or so.