, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 1-12

Formulary Management of Low Molecular Weight Heparins

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Abstract

Low molecular weight heparins (LMWHs) are increasingly being utilised as anticoagulants in healthcare settings. These agents offer several advantages over standard unfractionated heparin. Indications for LMWHs include deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism prophylaxis, deep vein thrombosis treatment, use in coronary procedures associated with a high risk for bleeding, and in acute coronary syndromes.

Prior to being added to formularies, LMWHs should be evaluated for efficacy, safety and economic benefits over other anticoagulants. Institutions should be prepared to conduct their own economic assessments in the absence of readily available studies.

There is clear evidence that LMWHs are cost saving or are at least cost effective as thromboprophylactic agents in major orthopaedic surgery. The economic benefits of LMWHs in other surgical situations is less clear. Consistent evidence from several countries indicate that LMWHs are cost saving as anticoagulants for the initial treatment of DVT.

Further studies are needed to evaluate the efficacy, safety and economics of LMWHs in other conditions besides hip and knee arthroplasty and general surgery.