New drug more widely available for blood clots

A treatment for patients undergoing major joint replacement surgery will be made more readily available after an agreement between the Government and an international company.

The Government drug-funder Pharmac today announced the changes after an agreement with Bayer Healthcare, which will take effect from Wednesday.

The blood-thinning drug rivaroxaban, called Xarelto, will now be funded for the prevention of venous thromboembolism (VTE), or blood clots, following elective total hip or knee replacement surgery in adult patients.

During and after hip or knee replacement procedures, there is a significant increase in the risk of VTE because of the surgery itself and a subsequent decrease in mobility.

Nearly 7000 knee replacement and nearly 6000 hip replacement operations are performed in New Zealand each year and over five years, Pharmac estimates about 40,000 people will use the medicine.

Pharmac medical director Dr Peter Moodie said Xarelto had advantages as it did not need to be given by injection, did not have the need for close-monitoring and blood testing as required for other drugs and was more effective than low dose aspirin.

"We think funding this medicine will lead to better treatment of patients who have had total hip or knee replacements and avoid the blood clotting that can lead to further hospitalisations," he said.

The agreement with Bayer also includes wider access to treatment for those suffering from multiple sclerosis.



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