Importance of pharmacokinetic profile and variability as determinants of dose and response to dabigatran, rivaroxaban, and apixaban

Inna Y Gong, Richard B Kim
Canadian Journal of Cardiology 2013, 29 (7 Suppl): S24-33
Warfarin has been the mainstay oral anticoagulant (OAC) medication prescribed for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation (AF) patients. However, warfarin therapy is challenging because of marked interindividual variability in dose and response, requiring frequent monitoring and dose titration. These limitations have prompted the clinical development of new OACs (NOACs) that directly target the coagulation cascade with rapid onset/offset of action, lower risk for drug-drug interactions, and more predictable response. Recently, NOACs dabigatran (direct thrombin inhibitor), and rivaroxaban and apixaban (factor Xa [FXa] inhibitors) have gained regulatory approval as alternative therapies to warfarin. Though the anticoagulation efficacy of these NOACs has been characterized, differences in their pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profiles have become a significant consideration in terms of drug selection and dosing. In this review, we outline key pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic features of each compound and provide guidance on selection and dosing of the 3 NOACs relative to warfarin when considering OAC therapy for AF patients. Importantly, we show that by better understanding the effect of clinical variables such as age, renal function, dosing interval, and drug metabolism (CYP3A4) and transport (P-glycoprotein), we might be able to better predict the risk for sub- and supratherapeutic anticoagulation response and individualize OAC selection and dosing.

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