Four non–vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants (NOACs), including the direct thrombin inhibitor dabigatran and the direct factor Xa inhibitors rivaroxaban, apixaban, and edoxaban, are currently licensed as alternatives to heparins and vitamin K antagonists for the prevention and treatment of venous thromboembolism and for the prevention of stroke in patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation. Dabigatran is the only NOAC that inhibits thrombin; the others inhibit factor Xa. All of the NOACs are at least as effective as vitamin K antagonists for the prevention of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation and for the treatment of venous thromboembolism, and they are associated with less life-threatening bleeding, in particular less intracranial hemorrhage.1,2 Nonetheless, serious bleeding can occur with NOACs. In addition, patients taking NOACs may sustain trauma and may require urgent surgery or interventions. Consequently, the availability of specific reversal agents for NOACs could improve patient management during these emergency situations.
Eikelboom J, Quinlan JD, van Ryn J, Weitz JI. Circulation 2015;132:2412–22.