Astellas Pharma has decided to throw in the towel on its oral anticoagulant darexaban, after considering the crowded market for bloodthinners and the difficulty in finding a partner for the drug.

The Japanese drugmaker had been darexaban, an oral direct Factor Xa inhibitor, for a number of indications - preventing venous thromboembolism (VTE) after major orthopaedic surgery, stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation and ischaemic events prevention in acute coronary syndrome (ACS). However, the firm suffered a setback recently when Phase II data showed that the drug increased bleeding two- to four-fold in patients with ACS, while in February, it withdrew a market authorisation application for darexaban in Japan for the prevention of VTE after orthopaedic surgery.

Astellas says that it had been considering the appointment of a partner for the Phase III development and commercialisation of darexaban for these indications but "finding a suitable partner has been difficult". Also, "considering intensified competition for this product and the order of priority in its pipeline", it has decided to discontinue development of darexaban for all indications.

Darexaban belongs to the same class as Bayer/Johnson & Johnson's Xarelto (rivaroxaban) and Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer's Eliquis (apixaban).