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The RE-LY Study Provides Atrial Fibrillation Patients With A More Convenient Drug

The Randomized Evaluation of Long-Term Anticoagulation Therapy (RE-LY) Study was designed to test a new oral direct thrombin inhibitor, dabigatran.  For patients with atrial fibrillation, warfarin (Coumadin) has generally been used as a blood thinner to reduce the risk of stroke.  The purpose of the RE-LY Study, which lasted from December 2005 to December 2007, was to compare dabigatran to warfarin.  Throughout the study, a total of 18,113 patients with atrial fibrillation were enrolled.
Vitamin K antagonists such as warfarin, inhibit coagulation (blood clotting) which reduces the risk of stroke among patients with atrial fibrillation.  While the reduction of the risk of stroke for these patients is a positive effect of the medicine, these types of drugs (often referred to as anticoagulants), require a great deal of laboratory follow up and have multiple interactions with food and other drugs. “There was a need for a new anticoagulant that is effective, safe, and convenient to use,” stated Dr. Steven Shayani, Chariman of the New York Heart Research Foundation and Medical Director of Long island Heart Associates. Researchers have been looking for a replacement drug for the inconvenient warfarin.  When a patient is prescribed warfarin, they are often told to follow a specific diet and require monthly blood work.
Dabigatran is a direct thrombin inhibitor (blood thinner). While dabigatran and warfarin both work as blood thinners, they have different mechanisms of action. Dabigatran is taken twice daily and requires no monthly lab draws nor does it require the patient to follow a specific diet.   Therefore dabigatran is more convenient for the patient and increases patient compliance.
In conclusion, dabigatran 150 mg, taken orally twice daily was approved by the FDA as an alternate option to warfarin.

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