A Step Change in Oral Anticoagulation: Lack of Coagulation Monitoring with Ximelagatran
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The clinical development of ximelagatran for the treatment and prevention of various arterial and venous thromboembolic disorders has used fixed-dose regimens without coagulation monitoring in all indications. Although monitoring is not required, effects on the various coagulation assays that are available are seen with its active form melagatran, and there are situations where an assessment of anticoagulant effect may help to inform clinical decisions. However, the sensitivity of different coagulation assays varies considerably. The thrombin clotting time (TT) and ecarin clotting time (ECT) are highly sensitive to plasma melagatran concentrations (IC 50 approximately 0.01 micromol/L and approximately 0.15 micromol/L, respectively), with an approximate linear relationship between plasma melagatran concentration and prolongation of clotting time. In comparison, the activated partial thromboplastin time (APTT) (IC 50 approximately 0.3 to 0.8 micromol/L) and prothrombin time (PT) (IC 50 approximately 0.9 to 2.9 micromol/L) are relatively insensitive, and the concentration-response relationship shows a flattening with increasing plasma melagatran concentration. Commercially available APTT and PT reagents varied considerably in their sensitivity to melagatran. Comparing the various coagulation assays, the APTT, ECT, and TT are suitable choices when an indicator of the anticoagulant effect of ximelagatran is required, although the absence of international standards requires calibration of each test in individual laboratories and the ECT is not widely available.
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