Can clot-fighters get a boost from the U.K.'s new enthusiasm?

The cost-effectiveness watchdogs in the U.K. really, really want people to take their clot-busting drugs. Days ago, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) touted the benefits of anticoagulants for patients with atrial fibrillation, and now, they're considering new backing for Eli Lilly's ($LLY) Effient.

After reviewing the data on strokes and atrial fibrillation against the use of clot-fighters new and old, NICE determined that thousands more patients should be taking the drugs. In fact, only half of patients who should be taking anticoagulants are actually doing so--and if health officials want to prevent strokes, then that needs to change, NICE said.

And as NICE sees it, many of those should be using newer market entrants--Boehringer Ingelheim's Pradaxa; Bayer and Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) Xarelto; and Pfizer ($PFE) and Bristol-Myers Squibb's ($BMS) Eliquis--rather than the old standby, warfarin.

As for Effient, the agency rolled out new guidance recommending the drug in combination with aspirin to prevent blood clots in a variety of ACS patients. Previously, NICE mostly relegated Effient to a small group: patients undergoing angioplasty for a very specific type of heart attack. The new guidance puts all angioplasty patients with ACS in line for Effient.

What changed? For one thing, new data analyses suggested that in certain patients, Effient actually beat Plavix (clopidogrel), the widely used treatment in such cases, which also happens to be available as a generic now.

Theoretically, NICE's new backing could be helpful to all these clot-fighters not only in the U.K., but elsewhere. The agency's decisions are closely followed in other countries, particularly those without their own cost-effectiveness bodies. Whether those decisions move physicians to pick up their prescription pads is another question.

- see the NICE release on anticoagulants
- check out the agency's appraisal of Effient (PDF)
- get more from FiercePharma
- see the PharmaTimes story

Special Report: Top 10 Cardio Drugs 2012