Patients ignorant of blood clot risks

pharmafile | April 14, 2010 | News story | Sales and Marketing Pradaxa, VTE, thrombosis 

Many patients are not aware that they are at risk from blood clots when staying in hospital, according to new findings.

In a survey sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim, less than half of the people surveyed said they had been informed of the risk of thrombosis.

Around 25,000 people die in UK hospitals each year as a result of clots, which includes deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism.

Of those respondents who had undergone high-risk orthopaedic surgery, only 50% had the risk of venous thrombembolic events (VTE) discussed with them.

Perhaps more worryingly, the survey found that just 27% were given drug treatment for treatment or prevention of clots post-surgery.

The survey was published by Lifeblood: The Thrombosis Charity, which said in a statement: “Sadly, the results show that there is still a great deal of work to be done in this area, as most people thought the risk of infection was far higher than that of developing a clot when admitted to hospital.”

This chimes with a recent MORI poll for Lifeblood, which showed most people still think the risk of developing a clot due to long-haul flights or extended periods of immobility was higher than their risk from an operation.

The charity has previously estimated that it costs the NHS £222.8 million per year to treat hospital-acquired DVT – compared to £45m for the MRSA superbug.

“The research clearly shows that there is a huge education gap concerning hospital-acquired blood clots,” says Lifeblood medical director Professor Beverly Hunt.

Boehringer’s interest in this therapy area is based largely on its blood-thinning drug Pradaxa (dabigatran etexilate), indicated for the prevention of DVT after knee and hip surgery.

NICE last year approved Bayer’s rival anti-clotting treatment Xarelto (rivaroxaban) for the same indication, and both drugs are seen as more convenient than warfarin or Sanofi-Aventis’ Clexane (enoxaparin).

Boehringer is seeking a new indication for Pradaxa in reducing the risk of stroke, following evidence last year which showed it did not carry the risk of bleeding associated with warfarin.

Pradaxa’s rivals in this area include Xarelto, Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s apixaban, and Merck & Co’s betrixaban.

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