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What to consider before ditching Warfarin

A guide to help GPs decide whether a patient currently taking Warfarin needs to be switched to another oral anticoagulant has been produced by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

The guide, The oral anticoagulant dilemma, talks practitioners through the issues to consider when assessing whether a patient currently using Warfarin would benefit from being placed on one of three novel oral anticoagulants – Dabigatran, Apixaban and Rivaroxaban – listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule.

The guide, prepared as part of the Department’s Veterans MATES project, has been sent to 7100 GPs who, according to Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme data, treat patients taking oral anticoagulants.

The brochure cautions that patients on warfarin should not be changed onto another oral anticoagulant without careful consideration.

“We need to be careful that marketing promotion and familiarisation programs do not drive a needless trend to switch patients currently taking Warfarin to the new agents for perceived ease of use or claims of superior safety or efficacy,” the guide says. “An informed decision and careful patients selection is recommended when considering treatment options, as many patients may not benefit from switching to the new agents.”

A companion guide for patients, New medicines: weighing up the benefits and risks, will be distributed next month to veteran patients who had been dispensed at least two oral anticoagulant prescriptions between April and July the year.

For more information, including other topics covered by the Veterans MATES project, visit: www.veteransmates.net.au