Treatment of Venous Thromboembolism and Long-Term Prevention of Recurrence: Present Treatment Options and Ximelagatran
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Despite the effectiveness of anticoagulant therapy for the treatment of acute venous thromboembolism and the prevention of recurrent venous thromboembolism, existing antithrombotic therapies are suboptimal. Unfractionated heparin, low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) and warfarin have practical limitations and carry the risk of treatment-related adverse events that restrict their clinical benefits and reduce cost-effectiveness. Efforts to achieve optimal venous thromboembolism prophylaxis by modifying the intensity of oral warfarin treatment have produced equivocal results, and there is a need for new, efficacious antithrombotic drugs providing predictable, well-tolerated oral dosing without the need for coagulation monitoring. Such agents would ideally have no significant food or drug interactions, and be suitable for both short- and long-term treatment. Ximelagatran, the first oral direct thrombin inhibitor, has the potential to fulfill many of the unmet needs in the management of venous thromboembolism.