Anti-stroke drug approved for State schemes

  • Niall Hunter, Editor

The State drug costs watchdog has approved a new drug that can prevent stroke and blood clots in patients with  the heart condition atrial fibrillation (AF).

This means that the drug will now be available to medical card patients and will qualify for refunds under the Drug Payments Scheme, as a result of approval by the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics (NCPE).

The newly-approved drug, Eliquis (generic name apixaban), is one of a group of new anticoagulants reported to be better at preventing stroke than the traditional treatment, warfarin. Two other drugs in this category have previously been approved for State schemes by the NCPE.

The new anticoagulants are also reported to be easier for patients to adhere to than warfarin, as they do not require regular blood monitoring and have fewer side effects.

The National Centre for Pharmacoecomics (NCPE) has now approved apixaban for reimbursement on State drug schemes, after finding it to be cost-effective in the prevention of stroke and systemic embolism in people with non-valvular atrial fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation is a heart rhythm disorder that can lead to stroke if left untreated.

The approval by the NCPE means that apixaban will be available on the medical card and drug payment schemes for the indications listed.

The NCPE has previously approved for State reimbursement two other new anticoagulant drugs, Pradaxa (dabigatran) and Xarelto (rivaroxaban).

When these drugs were introduced to the Irish market in recent years, there was initially some controversy over whether they were cost-effective enough to be approved for State schemes.

However, the NCPE, having initially rejected dabigatran and rivaroxaban for reimbursement on State schemes, subsequently approved these drugs as cost-effective after the manufacturers reduced the price of the drugs.


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