AMSTERDAM - A new clot preventer from Daiichi Sankyo proved as effective as widely used warfarin in treating a dangerous condition known as venous thromboembolism and caused less bleeding, a large clinical trial found.
The Japanese drugmaker hopes the finding will help it take on rivals including Bayer, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb in a growing market for novel pills to prevent blood clots.
Industry analysts believe that modern blood thinners to replace warfarin could generate annual sales of more than $10 billion a year.
Daiichi's drug, however, is the fourth new oral anticoagulant and doctors at the European Society of Cardiology congress, where the data were unveiled on Sunday, said it was not clear the once-daily pill had an edge over competitors.
"I'm uncertain as to the degree to which it moves the needle forward," said Dr. Patrick O'Gara of Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital, who is also president-elect of the American College of Cardiology.
He wants to see how the new medicine, known as edoxaban, performs once it is used more widely by doctors, while other cardiologists said price would be an important factor in weighing up the competing therapies.
"The world is changing pretty fast on cost and I have hopes that part of that will mean competition brings the price down,"said American Heart Association president Dr. Mariell Jessup.
The 60-year-old anticoagulant warfarin - originally developed as rat poison - is effective in preventing clots but is notoriously difficult to use because it requires careful monitoring of patients' blood levels and dose adjustments.
Daiichi's drug met the main goal of the 8,292-patient venous thromboembolism (VTE) study by working just as well as warfarin in treating and preventing recurrence of the condition.