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Pfizer/BMS blood thinner gains new licence

Published on 22/08/14 at 08:41am
eliquis image

Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb have been handed a much-needed lift after its new blood thinner Eliquis gained a licence extension in the US today.

The drug has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) – i.e., clots in the legs and lungs. It now also can be used for the reduction in the risk of recurrent DVT and PE following initial therapy.

The drug is already licenced to help reduce the risk of stroke and systemic embolism in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF), a type of heart flutter that can increase the risk of death, but these new licences should help Pfizer and BMS pick up more sales.

Eliquis (apixaban) is one of three new oral anticoagulants to the market that includes Boehringer’s Pradaxa (dabigatran) and Janssen/Bayer’s Xarelto (rivaroxaban).

Pradaxa increased by nearly 9% in euro sales last year to hit €1.2 billion, whilst Xarelto generated sales of €949 million ($1.3 billion) in the same period. Eliquis has fared far worse, making just $171 million in sales for the second quarter which is far behind the trajectory needed to be a blockbuster medicine.

Pradaxa and Xarelto were approved before Eliquis, and for a number of years have had the DVT and PE licences – as well as the AF indication. This means doctors have become more use to the older medicines, and are less willing to use newer anticoagulants such as Eliquis.

But despite its high sales Pradaxa has come under pressure for safety issues, predominately in the US, for increased bleeding rates and is currently looking to settle around 2,000 legal cases in the country.

Meanwhile Janssen, which markets Xarelto in the US, is said to be fighting a number of legal cases in North America relating to its medicine. Pfizer and BMS have so far steered clear of any similar major legal action.

All three are designed as an alternative to warfarin, an older oral drug that can cause serious bleeding episodes and comes with strict dietary restrictions and the need for frequent blood checks.

Ben Adams 

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