The number of available non-VKA oral anticoagulants (NOACs) has provided clinicians with a greater range of options for the management of patients with thromboembolic disorders. Recently, two meta-analyses compared the efficacy and safety of the NOACs in stroke prevention in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF)  and the prevention of recurrent venous thromboembolism (VTE) . These meta-analyses were the first to include data for all four NOACs studied in pivotal phase III studies for these indications.
KeywordsAtrial Fibrillation Stroke Prevention Dabigatran Etexilate Pivotal Phase Thromboembolic Disorder
The number of available NOACs has provided clinicians with a greater range of options for the management of patients with thromboembolic disorders. Recently, two meta-analyses compared the efficacy and safety of the NOACs in stroke prevention in patients with AF  and the prevention of recurrent venous thromboembolism (VTE) . These meta-analyses were the first to include data for all four NOACs studied in pivotal phase III studies for these indications.
In patients treated with NOACs, there was a significant reduction in all-cause mortality (relative risk 0.90, 95 % CI 0.85–0.95; P = 0.0003) and intracranial bleeding (relative risk 0.48, 95 % CI 0.39–0.59; P < 0.0001), however an increase in gastrointestinal bleeding was noted (relative risk 1.25, 95 % CI 1.01–1.55; P = 0.043). Low-dose NOAC regimens exhibited similar rates of stroke and systemic embolic events to warfarin (relative risk 1.03, 95 % CI 0.84–1.27; P = 0.74), with a more favorable bleeding profile (relative risk 0.65, 95 % CI 0.43–1.00; P = 0.05) but were associated with significantly more ischemic strokes (relative risk 1.28, 95 % CI 1.02–1.60; P = 0.045). NOACs were associated with a favorable risk-benefit profile compared with warfarin, having demonstrated significant reductions in stroke, intracranial hemorrhage and mortality and similar rates of major bleeding. The safety and efficacy outcomes of NOACs in AF are consistent across a wide range of patients.
With regards to safety the risk ratio of major bleeding was 0.60 (95 % CI 0.41–0.88) and fatal bleeding 0.36 (95 % CI 0.15–0.87). Compared with VKAs, in the treatment of VTE NOACs have comparable efficacy with a significantly lower risk of bleeding complications.
4.1 Future Directions
The number of NOACs that have been approved or are under clinical development reflects the huge clinical demand for such medicines and the desire of the pharmaceutical industry to respond to the as yet unmet needs of patients.
Four NOACs, the direct thrombin inhibitor dabigatran etexilate and the direct factor Xa inhibitors rivaroxaban, apixaban and edoxaban, have already successfully completed phase III trials for indications requiring long-term anticoagulation. These drugs largely correspond to the requirements of an ideal anticoagulant. Furthermore, as they all participate in late stages of the coagulation cascade, their inhibition allows disruption of both the intrinsic and the extrinsic pathways; their high antithrombotic efficacy stems from this ‘double’ action.
- 2.van der Hulle T, Kooiman J, den Exter PL, Dekkers OM, Klok FA, Huisman MV. Effectiveness and safety of novel oral anticoagulants as compared with vitamin K antagonists in the treatment of acute symptomatic venous thromboembolism: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Thromb Haemost. 2014;12:320–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
OpenAccess This chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License, which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.