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Concept: Low molecular weight heparin


Background Low-molecular-weight heparin is the standard treatment for cancer-associated venous thromboembolism. The role of treatment with direct oral anticoagulant agents is unclear. Methods In this open-label, noninferiority trial, we randomly assigned patients with cancer who had acute symptomatic or incidental venous thromboembolism to receive either low-molecular-weight heparin for at least 5 days followed by oral edoxaban at a dose of 60 mg once daily (edoxaban group) or subcutaneous dalteparin at a dose of 200 IU per kilogram of body weight once daily for 1 month followed by dalteparin at a dose of 150 IU per kilogram once daily (dalteparin group). Treatment was given for at least 6 months and up to 12 months. The primary outcome was a composite of recurrent venous thromboembolism or major bleeding during the 12 months after randomization, regardless of treatment duration. Results Of the 1050 patients who underwent randomization, 1046 were included in the modified intention-to-treat analysis. A primary-outcome event occurred in 67 of the 522 patients (12.8%) in the edoxaban group as compared with 71 of the 524 patients (13.5%) in the dalteparin group (hazard ratio, 0.97; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.70 to 1.36; P=0.006 for noninferiority; P=0.87 for superiority). Recurrent venous thromboembolism occurred in 41 patients (7.9%) in the edoxaban group and in 59 patients (11.3%) in the dalteparin group (difference in risk, -3.4 percentage points; 95% CI, -7.0 to 0.2). Major bleeding occurred in 36 patients (6.9%) in the edoxaban group and in 21 patients (4.0%) in the dalteparin group (difference in risk, 2.9 percentage points; 95% CI, 0.1 to 5.6). Conclusions Oral edoxaban was noninferior to subcutaneous dalteparin with respect to the composite outcome of recurrent venous thromboembolism or major bleeding. The rate of recurrent venous thromboembolism was lower but the rate of major bleeding was higher with edoxaban than with dalteparin. (Funded by Daiichi Sankyo; Hokusai VTE Cancer number, NCT02073682 .).

Concepts: Blood, Thrombosis, Pulmonary embolism, Warfarin, Hematology, Low molecular weight heparin, Anticoagulant, Heparin


Effective treatment of venous thromboembolism (VTE) strikes a balance between prevention of recurrence and bleeding complications. The current standard of care is heparin followed by a vitamin K antagonist such as warfarin. However, this option is not without its limitations, as the anticoagulant effect of warfarin is associated with high inter- and intra-patient variability and patients must be regularly monitored to ensure that anticoagulation is within the narrow target therapeutic range. Several novel oral anticoagulant agents are in the advanced stages of development for VTE treatment, some of which are given after an initial period of heparin treatment, in line with current practice, while others switch from high to low doses after the initial phase of treatment. In this review we assess the critical considerations for treating VTE in light of emerging clinical data for new oral agents and discuss the merits of novel treatment regimens for patients who have experienced an episode of deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism.

Concepts: Stroke, Thrombosis, Pulmonary embolism, Warfarin, Vein, Low molecular weight heparin, Anticoagulant, Deep vein thrombosis


In the HORIZONS-AMI trial, bivalirudin compared to unfractionated heparin (UFH) plus a glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitor (GPI) improved net clinical outcomes in patients undergoing primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) at the cost of an increased rate of acute stent thrombosis. We sought to examine whether these effects are dependent on time to treatment.

Concepts: Cardiology, Percutaneous coronary intervention, Low molecular weight heparin, Eptifibatide


Background The use of thromboprophylaxis to prevent clinically apparent venous thromboembolism after knee arthroscopy or casting of the lower leg is disputed. We compared the incidence of symptomatic venous thromboembolism after these procedures between patients who received anticoagulant therapy and those who received no anticoagulant therapy. Methods We conducted two parallel, pragmatic, multicenter, randomized, controlled, open-label trials with blinded outcome evaluation: the POT-KAST trial, which included patients undergoing knee arthroscopy, and the POT-CAST trial, which included patients treated with casting of the lower leg. Patients were assigned to receive either a prophylactic dose of low-molecular-weight heparin (for the 8 days after arthroscopy in the POT-KAST trial or during the full period of immobilization due to casting in the POT-CAST trial) or no anticoagulant therapy. The primary outcomes were the cumulative incidences of symptomatic venous thromboembolism and major bleeding within 3 months after the procedure. Results In the POT-KAST trial, 1543 patients underwent randomization, of whom 1451 were included in the intention-to-treat population. Venous thromboembolism occurred in 5 of the 731 patients (0.7%) in the treatment group and in 3 of the 720 patients (0.4%) in the control group (relative risk, 1.6; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.4 to 6.8; absolute difference in risk, 0.3 percentage points; 95% CI, -0.6 to 1.2). Major bleeding occurred in 1 patient (0.1%) in the treatment group and in 1 (0.1%) in the control group (absolute difference in risk, 0 percentage points; 95% CI, -0.6 to 0.7). In the POT-CAST trial, 1519 patients underwent randomization, of whom 1435 were included in the intention-to-treat population. Venous thromboembolism occurred in 10 of the 719 patients (1.4%) in the treatment group and in 13 of the 716 patients (1.8%) in the control group (relative risk, 0.8; 95% CI, 0.3 to 1.7; absolute difference in risk, -0.4 percentage points; 95% CI, -1.8 to 1.0). No major bleeding events occurred. In both trials, the most common adverse event was infection. Conclusions The results of our trials showed that prophylaxis with low-molecular-weight heparin for the 8 days after knee arthroscopy or during the full period of immobilization due to casting was not effective for the prevention of symptomatic venous thromboembolism. (Funded by the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development; POT-KAST and POT-CAST numbers, NCT01542723 and NCT01542762 , respectively.).

Concepts: Blood, Thrombosis, Pulmonary embolism, Warfarin, Anterior cruciate ligament, Low molecular weight heparin, Anticoagulant, Heparin


Background Bivalirudin, as compared with heparin and glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors, has been shown to reduce rates of bleeding and death in patients undergoing primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). Whether these benefits persist in contemporary practice characterized by prehospital initiation of treatment, optional use of glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors and novel P2Y12 inhibitors, and radial-artery PCI access use is unknown. Methods We randomly assigned 2218 patients with ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) who were being transported for primary PCI to receive either bivalirudin or unfractionated or low-molecular-weight heparin with optional glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors (control group). The primary outcome at 30 days was a composite of death or major bleeding not associated with coronary-artery bypass grafting (CABG), and the principal secondary outcome was a composite of death, reinfarction, or non-CABG major bleeding. Results Bivalirudin, as compared with the control intervention, reduced the risk of the primary outcome (5.1% vs. 8.5%; relative risk, 0.60; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.43 to 0.82; P=0.001) and the principal secondary outcome (6.6% vs. 9.2%; relative risk, 0.72; 95% CI, 0.54 to 0.96; P=0.02). Bivalirudin also reduced the risk of major bleeding (2.6% vs. 6.0%; relative risk, 0.43; 95% CI, 0.28 to 0.66; P<0.001). The risk of acute stent thrombosis was higher with bivalirudin (1.1% vs. 0.2%; relative risk, 6.11; 95% CI, 1.37 to 27.24; P=0.007). There was no significant difference in rates of death (2.9% vs. 3.1%) or reinfarction (1.7% vs. 0.9%). Results were consistent across subgroups of patients. Conclusions Bivalirudin, started during transport for primary PCI, improved 30-day clinical outcomes with a reduction in major bleeding but with an increase in acute stent thrombosis. (Funded by the Medicines Company; EUROMAX number, NCT01087723 .).

Concepts: Myocardial infarction, Atherosclerosis, Percutaneous coronary intervention, Clopidogrel, Low molecular weight heparin, Coronary artery bypass surgery, Acute coronary syndrome, Anticoagulant


IMPORTANCE Retrievable inferior vena cava (IVC) filters were designed to provide temporary protection from pulmonary embolism, sparing patients from long-term complications of permanent filters. However, many retrievable IVC filters are left in place indefinitely. OBJECTIVES To review the medical records of patients with IVC filters to determine patient demographics and date of and indication for IVC filter placement, as well as complications, follow-up data, date of IVC filter retrieval, and use of anticoagulant therapy. DESIGN AND SETTING A retrospective review of IVC filter use between August 1, 2003, and February 28, 2011, was conducted at Boston Medical Center, a tertiary referral center with the largest trauma center in New England. PARTICIPANTS In total, 978 patients. Twenty six patients were excluded from the study because of incomplete medical records. INTERVENTION Placement of retrievable IVC filter. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES In total, 952 medical records were included in the analysis. RESULTS Of 679 retrievable IVC filters that were placed, 58 (8.5%) were successfully removed. Unsuccessful retrieval attempts were made in 13 patients (18.3% of attempts). Seventy-four venous thrombotic events (7.8% of 952 patients included in the study) occurred after IVC filter placement, including 25 pulmonary emboli, all of which occurred with the IVC filter in place. Forty-eight percent of venous thrombotic events were in patients without venous thromboembolism at the time of IVC filter placement, and 89.4% occurred in patients not receiving anticoagulants. Many IVC filters placed after trauma were inserted when the highest bleeding risk had subsided, and anticoagulant therapy may have been appropriate. While many of these filters were placed because of a perceived contraindication to anticoagulants, 237 patients (24.9%) were discharged on a regimen of anticoagulant therapy. CONCLUSION AND RELEVANCE Our research suggests that the use of IVC filters for prophylaxis and treatment of venous thrombotic events, combined with a low retrieval rate and inconsistent use of anticoagulant therapy, results in suboptimal outcomes due to high rates of venous thromboembolism.

Concepts: Stroke, Pulmonary embolism, Warfarin, Low molecular weight heparin, Anticoagulant, Inferior vena cava, Deep vein thrombosis, Inferior vena cava filter


Clinical trials and meta-analyses have suggested that aspirin may be effective for the prevention of venous thromboembolism (proximal deep-vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism) after total hip or total knee arthroplasty, but comparisons with direct oral anticoagulants are lacking for prophylaxis beyond hospital discharge.

Concepts: Stroke, Warfarin, Low molecular weight heparin


Objective To prospectively validate the HERDOO2 rule (Hyperpigmentation, Edema, or Redness in either leg; D-dimer level ≥250 μg/L; Obesity with body mass index ≥30; or Older age, ≥65 years), which states that women with none or one of the criteria can safely discontinue anticoagulants after short term treatment.Design Prospective cohort management study.Setting 44 secondary or tertiary care centres in seven countries.Participants Of 3155 consecutive eligible participants with a first unprovoked venous thromboembolism (VTE, proximal leg deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism) who completed 5-12 months of short term anticoagulant treatment, 370 declined to participate, leaving 2785 enrolled participants. 2.3% were lost to follow-up.Interventions Women with none or one of the HERDOO2 criteria were classified as at low risk of recurrent VTE and discontinued anticoagulants (intervention arm), whereas anticoagulant management for high risk women (≥2 HERDOO2 criteria) and men was left to the discretion of the clinicians and patients (observation arm).Main outcome measure Recurrent symptomatic VTE (independently and blindly adjudicated) over one year of follow-up.Results Of 1213 women, 631 (51.3%) were classified as low risk and 591 discontinued oral anticoagulant treatment. In the primary analysis, 17 low risk women who discontinued anticoagulants developed recurrent VTE during 564 patient years of follow-up (3.0% per patient year, 95% confidence interval 1.8% to 4.8%). In 323 high risk women and men who discontinued anticoagulants, 25 had VTE during 309 patient years of follow-up (8.1%, 5.2% to 11.9%), whereas in 1802 high risk women and men who continued anticoagulants 28 had recurrent VTE during 1758 patient years of follow-up (1.6%, 1.1% to 2.3%).Conclusions Women with a first unprovoked VTE event and none or one of the HERDOO2 criteria have a low risk of recurrent VTE and can safely discontinue anticoagulants after completing short term treatment.Trial registration NCT00967304.

Concepts: Stroke, Thrombosis, Pulmonary embolism, Hematology, Vein, Low molecular weight heparin, Anticoagulant, Deep vein thrombosis


BACKGROUND: Peripherally inserted central catheters (PICCs) are associated with an increased risk of venous thromboembolism. However, the size of this risk relative to that associated with other central venous catheters (CVCs) is unknown. We did a systematic review and meta-analysis to compare the risk of venous thromboembolism associated with PICCs versus that associated with other CVCs. METHODS: We searched several databases, including Medline, Embase, Biosis, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Conference Papers Index, and Scopus. Additional studies were identified through hand searches of bibliographies and internet searches, and we contacted study authors to obtain unpublished data. All human studies published in full text, abstract, or poster form were eligible for inclusion. All studies were of adult patients aged at least 18 years who underwent insertion of a PICC. Studies were assessed with the Newcastle-Ottawa risk of bias scale. In studies without a comparison group, the pooled frequency of venous thromboembolism was calculated for patients receiving PICCs. In studies comparing PICCs with other CVCs, summary odds ratios (ORs) were calculated with a random effects meta-analysis. FINDINGS: Of the 533 citations identified, 64 studies (12 with a comparison group and 52 without) including 29 503 patients met the eligibility criteria. In the non-comparison studies, the weighted frequency of PICC-related deep vein thrombosis was highest in patients who were critically ill (13·91%, 95% CI 7·68-20·14) and those with cancer (6·67%, 4·69-8·64). Our meta-analysis of 11 studies comparing the risk of deep vein thrombosis related to PICCs with that related to CVCs showed that PICCs were associated with an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis (OR 2·55, 1·54-4·23, p<0·0001) but not pulmonary embolism (no events). With the baseline PICC-related deep vein thrombosis rate of 2·7% and pooled OR of 2·55, the number needed to harm relative to CVCs was 26 (95% CI 13-71). INTERPRETATION: PICCs are associated with a higher risk of deep vein thrombosis than are CVCs, especially in patients who are critically ill or those with a malignancy. The decision to insert PICCs should be guided by weighing of the risk of thrombosis against the benefit provided by these devices. FUNDING: None.

Concepts: Blood, Thrombosis, Hematology, Vein, Low molecular weight heparin, Central venous catheter, Deep vein thrombosis, Deep vein


This article examines the market entry of biosimilar low-molecular-weight heparins (LMWHs) in Europe by focusing on regulatory requirements, pricing, reimbursement, prescribing, and dispensing. The window for biosimilar LMWHs to enter the market is narrow on the supply side because of several factors. These include (1) regulatory requirements, including a quality dossier, clinical and nonclinical studies, pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic studies, immunogenicity studies, and a comparability exercise (but a reduction in clinical data requirements might be plausible in some cases); (2) prices of originator LMWHs are lower than those of other biologic products; (3) European prices of originator LMWHs are lower than those observed in the rest of the world; (4) research and development and manufacturing costs are substantial; (5) costs of active pharmaceutical ingredients have increased following the heparin contamination crisis; and (6) biosimilar LMWHs may be subjected to generic medicine pricing regulations. Furthermore, there are limited opportunities for biosimilar LMWHs on the demand side. This is because, although LMWHs have a large market volume in Europe, demand-side incentives for biosimilar LMWHs are largely absent, and the questions about interchangeability and substitution between originator and biosimilar LMWHs have yet to be fully resolved.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Law, Clinical research, Drug development, Low molecular weight heparin, Supply and demand, Active ingredient, Food and Drug Administration