Boehringer Ingelheim has been boosted by the UK’s drug cost-effectiveness watchdog’s backing for the firm’s oral anticoagulant Pradaxa.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has published a ‘final appraisal determination’ which gives a draft recommendation for Pradaxa (dabigatran etexilate), which was recently granted approval by the European Commission for the prevention of venous thromboembolic events in adults who have undergone elective total hip or elective total knee replacement surgery. The drug is the first oral anticoagulant for preventing VTE to be licensed in the UK for more than 50 years and final NICE guidance is expected to be issued shortly, which will see Pradaxa, a novel direct thrombin inhibitor, available for routine use on the National Health Service.

Boehringer said NICE has recently reported that 30% of surgical patients are affected by deep vein thrombosis and a House of Commons Health Committee report has highlighted that up to 32,000 patients die each year after developing blood clots in hospital. This exceeds the combined total deaths from breast cancer, AIDS and road traffic accidents and more than 25 times the annual deaths from MRSA.

However, as Eve Knight at the AntiCoagulation Europe charity notes, “a key reason patients at risk of blood clots after surgery do not receive adequate protection is that existing appropriate anticoagulants may be perceived to be associated with poor compliance”, in particular injectable thromboprophylactics. An oral anticoagulant like Pradaxa, that does not require anticoagulation monitoring “is a major advance”, she added.

Pradaxa has already received positive recommendations from the Scottish Medicines Consortium and the Danish Institute for Rational Pharmacotherapy and been available in Germany and the UK. This is helping the drug steal a march on Bayer's rival drug Xarelto (rivaroxaban) which earlier this week received a positive recommendation from the European Medicines Agency’s Committee for Medicinal Products in Human Use.