INTRODUCTION: Direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) have emerged as alternatives to vitamin K antagonists for the prevention of stroke in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (NVAF). Four DOACs: dabigatran, rivaroxaban, apixaban and edoxaban, are currently available. In the absence of head-to-head clinical comparisons of DOACs, dosing regimen may influence drug choice.
AREAS COVERED: Edoxaban and rivaroxaban are administered once daily, dabigatran and apixaban twice daily. The selection of these dosage regimens is largely based on studies for the prevention or treatment of venous thromboembolism or acute coronary syndrome. Edoxaban is the only DOAC in which once and twice-daily regimens were compared in patients with NVAF; bleeding rates were higher in the twice-daily groups. Once-daily versus twice-daily regimens have a number of practical implications. Missing a once-daily dose would have a greater impact on anticoagulation. Some real world and retrospective studies found that a once-daily dosing regimen leads to better adherence and persistence to therapy, an important consideration for maintaining optimum anticoagulation. However, other studies have not found increased adherence among once daily regimens.
EXPERT OPINION: Prescription of DOACs should be tailored to the individual patient and dosing regimen is only one of the variables that should be taken into account.