Boehringer Ingelheim has announced that it is reducing the cost of its oral anticoagulant Pradaxa (dabigatran etexilate) by 13% to £2.20 per day, from April 1.

The move comes two weeks after the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) issued final guidance recommending the use of Pradaxa for the prevention of stroke and systemic embolism in adult patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF) with one or more risk factors. 

Boehringer Igelheim's director of communications, Duncan Cantor, points out that, with this guidance, NICE confirmed that Pradaxa is a cost-effective option for patients at £2.52 per day, but he adds that the firm believes "it is important to make our medicines as affordable as possible in this tough financial climate." 

"By lowering the price by 13% to £2.20, the NHS now has every opportunity to make sure this medicine is available to all eligible patients," said Mr Cantor.

The price change will help to ensure that all eligible patients are able to benefit from the first new oral anticoagulant for stroke prevention in AF in 60 years, addressing NHS concerns about affordability to facilitate appropriate prescribing based on clinical need, not cost, says the firm.

It also points out that NICE's final approval recommendation means that, under the NHS Constitution, over 900,000 patients should have the legal right to receive Pradaxa, provided their clinician believes it to be appropriate for them.

A study published last October in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) by Martin Cowie, professor of cardiology at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London, et al, reported that stroke prevention in patients with AF is not optimally managed. While many patients are treated with warfarin, the current standard of care, a significant proportion are not well-controlled within the target international normalised ratio (INR) range, with others receiving inadequate anti-platelet treatment such as aspirin and up to 30% being given no treatment at all.

"This represents a large unmet need, and treating these patients with dabigatran has the potential to significantly reduce stroke risk where existing treatment is not appropriate or treatment is not being offered," says Boehringer Ingelheim.

An estimated 1.2 million people in the UK have been diagnosed with AF, of whom 77% are eligible for treatment with an anticoagulant, the firm notes. The use of Pradaxa 150mg twice daily has the potential to prevent 530 more strokes per 100,000 patients every year compared to warfarin and, if all eligible patients were to receive Pradaxa 150mg twice daily instead of warfarin, this could mean preventing up to 5,000 strokes, saving the NHS as much as £59 million in the first year, it adds.