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Antithrombotic Therapy and Prevention of Thrombosis, 9th Ed: American College of Chest Physician Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guidelines Online Only Articles |

New Antithrombotic DrugsNew Antithrombotic Drugs: Antithrombotic Therapy and Prevention of Thrombosis, 9th ed: American College of Chest Physicians Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guidelines FREE TO VIEW

Jeffrey I. Weitz, MD, FCCP; John W. Eikelboom, MBBS; Meyer Michel Samama, MD
Author and Funding Information

From the Thrombosis and Atherosclerosis Research Institute and Department of Medicine (Drs Weitz and Eikelboom) and the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences (Dr Weitz), McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada; and the Hôtel-Dieu University Hospital (Dr Samama), Paris, France.

Correspondence to: Jeffrey I. Weitz, MD, FCCP, Thrombosis and Atherosclerosis Research Institute, 237 Barton St E, Hamilton, ON, L8L 2X2, Canada; e-mail: weitzj@taari.ca


Funding/Support: The Antithrombotic Therapy and Prevention of Thrombosis, 9th ed: American College of Chest Physicians Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guidelines received support from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [R13 HL104758] and Bayer Schering Pharma AG. Support in the form of educational grants was also provided by Bristol-Myers Squibb; Pfizer, Inc; Canyon Pharmaceuticals; and sanofi-aventis US.

Disclaimer: American College of Chest Physician guidelines are intended for general information only, are not medical advice, and do not replace professional medical care and physician advice, which always should be sought for any medical condition. The complete disclaimer for this guideline can be accessed at http://chestjournal.chestpubs.org/content/141/2_suppl/1S.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (http://www.chestpubs.org/site/misc/reprints.xhtml).


Chest. 2012;141(2_suppl):e120S-e151S. doi:10.1378/chest.11-2294
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This article focuses on new antithrombotic drugs that are in or are entering phase 3 clinical testing. Development of these new agents was prompted by the limitations of existing antiplatelet, anticoagulant, or fibrinolytic drugs. Addressing these unmet needs, this article (1) outlines the rationale for development of new antithrombotic agents; (2) describes the new antiplatelet, anticoagulant, and fibrinolytic drugs; and (3) provides clinical perspectives on the opportunities and challenges faced by these novel agents.

Figures in this Article

Arterial and venous thrombosis is a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Arterial thrombosis is a common cause of myocardial infarction (MI), ischemic stroke, and limb gangrene; venous thrombosis includes DVT, which can be complicated by the postthrombotic syndrome, and pulmonary embolism (PE), which can be fatal or can lead to chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension.

Arterial thrombi, which form under high shear conditions, consist of platelet aggregates held together by small amounts of fibrin.1 Because of the predominance of platelets, strategies to inhibit arterial thrombogenesis focus mainly on drugs that block platelet function but include anticoagulants for prevention of cardioembolic events in patients with atrial fibrillation or mechanical heart valves. Fibrinolytic drugs are used for rapid restoration of antegrade blood flow in patients with acute MI who do not undergo a primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) and for treatment of acute ischemic stroke.

Venous thrombi, which form under low shear, are composed mainly of fibrin and trapped RBCs and contain relatively few platelets.1 With the predominance of fibrin in venous thrombi, anticoagulants are the mainstay for the prevention and treatment of VTE. Systemic or catheter-directed fibrinolytic therapy is used for treatment of massive PE and for management of selected patients with submassive PE, whereas catheter-directed fibrinolytic therapy is used in some patients with extensive iliofemoral DVT.

Limitations of existing antithrombotic drugs have prompted a search for novel agents. Focusing on new drugs for the prevention and treatment of arterial and venous thrombosis, this chapter (1) outlines the rationale for development of new antithrombotic drugs; (2) describes the new antithrombotic drugs, focusing primarily on those in phase 2 or 3 clinical testing; and (3) provides perspective on the unmet needs in antithrombotic therapy.

New antithrombotic drugs have been developed to overcome the limitations of existing agents. Most of the advances have been in the area of antiplatelet drugs and anticoagulants. The development of new fibrinolytic agents has lagged.

Although IV glycoprotein IIb/IIIa antagonists have a role in patients undergoing PCI, the need for these agents has declined because of the development of more potent oral antiplatelet drugs. Currently available oral antiplatelet drugs include aspirin, clopidogrel, prasugrel, and dipyridamole. The efficacy of aspirin and clopidogrel has clearly established cyclooxygenase-1, a key enzyme in thromboxane A2 synthesis, and P2Y12, the major adenosine diphosphate (ADP) receptor on platelets, as important targets for antiplatelet drugs. Although the benefits of aspirin for secondary prevention of atherothrombotic cardiovascular events clearly outweigh the risk of bleeding, aspirin is of limited usefulness for primary prevention, including primary prevention in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.2 In addition, recent meta-analyses question the usefulness of aspirin for prevention of cardiovascular events in patients with peripheral arterial disease (PAD).3 Building on this latter information, an expert panel of the US Food and Drug Administration found insufficient evidence to support over-the-counter use of aspirin for prevention of cardiovascular events in such patients.4 These issues highlight the limitations of aspirin.

On its own, clopidogrel has been shown to be only marginally more effective than aspirin.5 The combination of aspirin plus clopidogrel is superior to aspirin alone in patients at high risk for cardiovascular events,6-9 but combination therapy is associated with a significant risk of bleeding and has yielded disappointing results in patients with stable cardiovascular disease.10,11 Although the combination of aspirin plus dipyridamole is superior to aspirin alone for secondary prevention in patients with cerebrovascular disease,12 the efficacy of this combination is similar to that of clopidogrel.13

The limitations of existing antiplatelet drugs reflect, at least in part, their capacity to attenuate only a single pathway of platelet activation. Because platelets can be activated via multiple pathways, the potential for bypassing the inhibitory effects of these drugs remains high when there is a potent stimulus for platelet activation. Consequently, it is not surprising that breakthrough cardiovascular events occur, and these should not necessarily be labeled as simple treatment failures.

Another factor that may contribute to breakthrough cardiovascular events is individual variability in the response to antiplatelet drugs. Such variability may reflect poor compliance, pharmacogenetic factors, increased platelet turnover, drug interactions, baseline and residual platelet hyperreactivity, and other factors.14,15 Decreased responsiveness to aspirin and/or clopidogrel is common in patients with acute coronary syndromes, particularly in those with diabetes.16 In patients undergoing PCI, a reduced biologic response to aspirin plus clopidogrel has been associated with a poorer outcome. The decreased response may reflect, at least in part, reduced metabolic activation of clopidogrel.15 The cytochrome P450 (CYP) 2C19 enzyme plays a critical role in this process, and clopidogrel-treated patients with reduced function variants of the CYP2C19 gene have lower levels of clopidogrel metabolites and diminished platelet inhibition.17 It is estimated that 26% of the white population carries one loss-of-function variant of this gene, and about 2% carry two such alleles. These percentages are slightly higher in blacks and substantially higher in Asians. In patients undergoing PCI, those with one or two CYP2C19 loss-of-function alleles are at increased risk of subsequent cardiovascular events compared with noncarriers.17 These findings have prompted some experts to recommend tailored antiplatelet therapy based on periprocedural platelet function or genetic testing.18,19 However, the value of this approach has not been established. Instead, the limitations of existing antiplatelet agents has prompted the development of newer and more potent drugs, some directed against proven targets involved in platelet activation and others against new targets. These agents include novel inhibitors of the thromboxane A2 receptor, new P2Y12 antagonists, and inhibitors of protease activated receptor-1 (PAR-1), the major thrombin receptor on platelets.

On the anticoagulant front, most of the recent attention has focused on the development of new oral agents to replace vitamin K antagonists.20 Rivaroxaban, a direct factor Xa inhibitor, and dabigatran etexilate, a direct thrombin inhibitor, have been licensed in many countries for short-term thromboprophylaxis after elective hip or knee arthroplasty, and dabigatran etexilate has recently been licensed in the United States and Canada for stroke prevention in patients with atrial fibrillation. Several other direct factor Xa inhibitors, including apixaban and edoxaban, are in advanced stages of development for these and other indications (Table 1).

Table Graphic Jump Location
Table 1 —[Section 1.0] Comparison of the Pharmacologic Properties of the New Oral Anticoagulants That Are Approved or in the Most Advanced Stages of Clinical Development

CYP = cytochrome P450; od = once daily; P-gp = p-glycoprotein efflux transporter; Tmax = time to maximum concentration.

There have been few advances in fibrinolytic therapy over the past 5 years reflecting, at least in part, the shift from systemic fibrinolytic therapy to catheter-directed interventions for patients with acute MI and the challenge of improving on the efficacy of tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) and the convenience of its longer-acting derivatives, such as reteplase and tenecteplase.21 Nonetheless, there still is a need for safer fibrinolytic drugs that can extend the window for treatment of patients with acute ischemic stroke and for agents that produce more rapid and localized clot lysis when used for catheter-based procedures. Focusing on these indications, desmoteplase, a recombinant analog of the full-length plasminogen activator found in the saliva of the vampire bat, is undergoing phase 3 evaluation for treatment of acute ischemic stroke,22 whereas human plasmin is being explored for catheter-based treatment of ischemic stroke or acute peripheral artery occlusion.23

New antiplatelet agents in advanced stages of development target the thromboxane A2, ADP, or thrombin receptors on platelets (Fig 1). Like clopidogrel, the novel ADP receptor antagonists target P2Y12, whereas the thrombin receptor antagonists target PAR-1.

Figure Jump LinkFigure 1. New antiplatelet drugs. PAR = protease-activated receptor.Grahic Jump Location
2.1 Thromboxane A2 Receptor Antagonists

The thromboxane A2 receptor is a G-protein-coupled receptor on platelets that is activated not only by thromboxane A2 but also by its cyclic endoperoxide precursors. Thromboxane A2 receptor antagonists were developed, at least in part, to overcome the variable response to aspirin.24 Although aspirin blocks thromboxane A2 synthesis in most individuals, elevated urinary levels of its stable metabolite, thromboxane B2, have been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events.25,26 Elevated levels of urinary thromboxane B2 may reflect incomplete blockade of cyclooxygenase-1 in platelets and/or the shuttling of endoperoxide intermediates to platelets from other cells. The thromboxane A2 receptor antagonists include terutroban, which is specific for the thromboxane A2 receptor, and picotamide, which not only blocks the thromboxane A2 receptor but also inhibits thromboxane A2 synthetase.

2.1.1 Terutroban:

A selective inhibitor of the thromboxane A2 receptor on platelets, terutroban (previously known as S18886) is orally active.27 Peak plasma concentrations are achieved within 1 to 2 h of oral administration, and the drug has a half-life of 6 to 10 h. Terutroban inhibits thromboxane A2-induced platelet aggregation in a dose-dependent fashion with maximum inhibition obtained with drug levels > 10 ng/mL; a concentration that can be achieved with daily doses of 10 to 30 mg.28

Single-dose administration of 10 mg of terutroban to 12 patients with coronary artery disease who were receiving aspirin (100 mg/d) improved forearm blood flow after acetylcholine infusion compared with the results in eight aspirin-treated patients who received placebo.29 In patients with PAD randomized to terutroban, aspirin, or placebo, terutroban produced dose-dependent inhibition of platelet aggregation in response to thromboxane, ADP, or collagen and was at least as potent as aspirin.30 These phase 2 findings prompted the phase 3, double-blind Prevention of Cerebrovascular and Cardiovascular Events of Ischemic Origin with Terutroban in Patients with a History of Ischemic Stroke or Transient Ischemic Attack (PERFORM) trial, which compared terutroban (30 mg/d) with aspirin (100 mg/d) for secondary prevention in 19,119 patients with a recent history of ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attacks.31,32 The primary efficacy end point, a composite of fatal or nonfatal ischemic stroke or MI or vascular death, occurred in 11% of patients receiving either terutroban or aspirin (hazard ratio [HR], 1.02; 95% CI, 0.94-1.12). There was a small increase in minor bleeding with terutroban compared with aspirin (12% and 11%, respectively; HR, 1.11; 95% CI, 1.02-1.12), but no difference in other safety end points.33

2.1.2 Picotamide:

A derivative of methoxy-isophthalic acid, picotamide not only inhibits the thromboxane A2 receptor but also inhibits thromboxane synthetase at equivalent concentrations.34 In contrast to aspirin, picotamide does not interfere with prostacyclin production. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study in 2,304 patients with PAD, treatment with picotamide (300 mg bid) or placebo was administered for 18 months.35 End points of the study included major events (cardiovascular death, MI, stroke, or amputation) and minor events (unstable angina, transient ischemic attacks, hypertension, renal failure, or worsening of PAD symptoms). Although the intention-to-treat analysis revealed an 18.9% reduction in major plus minor events with picotamide, this difference was not statistically significant. However, the on-treatment analysis showed a 22.8% reduction in the same end points. Bleeding side effects were similar in the two groups. A post hoc subgroup analysis of the data from the 438 patients with diabetes included in the study revealed a 45.2% reduction in major and minor end points with picotamide compared with placebo.36 These findings prompted a randomized trial comparing picotamide (600 mg bid) with aspirin (320 mg/d) in 1,209 patients with diabetes with PAD.37 The primary efficacy end point was overall mortality, whereas the secondary end point was the composite of death and cardiovascular events. At 2 years, the overall mortality rates with picotamide and aspirin were 3.0% and 5.5%, respectively (relative risk [RR], 0.55; 95% CI, 0.31-0.98). Cardiovascular events occurred in 7.1% of patients given picotamide and 8.7% of those treated with aspirin. The difference in the combined end point of mortality plus cardiovascular events between the two groups did not reach statistical significance. Bleeding events were infrequent with both picotamide and aspirin (1.3% and 2.0%, respectively). Although these results are promising, additional studies are needed to establish the role of picotamide in patients with diabetes with PAD.

2.2 ADP Receptor Antagonists

Three reversible P2Y12 inhibitors are in phase 3 development: cangrelor, ticagrelor, and elinogrel (Table 2). Although these agents are chemically distinct and have different pharmacologic profiles, they share certain properties. In contrast to the thienopyridines, the reversible P2Y12 inhibitors do not require metabolic activation and they bind directly and reversibly to the P2Y12 receptor. Because of the reversible binding, their inhibitory effects decrease as drug concentrations fall.

Table Graphic Jump Location
Table 2 —[Section 2.2] Pharmacologic Characteristics of Direct-Acting Reversible P2Y12 Inhibitors

ADP = adenosine diphosphate.

2.2.1 Cangrelor:

An adenosine triphosphate analog, cangrelor is a direct competitive inhibitor of P2Y12.37 In contrast to clopidogrel or prasugrel, cangrelor does not require hepatic conversion to an active metabolite. The drug is only active when administered IV and it produces almost immediate and dose-proportional inhibition of ADP-induced platelet aggregation. Cangrelor is rapidly inactivated by dephosphorylation and has a half-life of 3 to 5 min. Upon cessation of therapy, therefore, there is recovery of platelet function within 60 min.37,38

The interaction of cangrelor with P2Y12 prevents the binding of the active metabolites of clopidogrel or prasugrel. This phenomenon complicates the transitioning of patients from cangrelor to clopidogrel or other thienopyridines, which can only exert their inhibitory effects once cangrelor dissociates from P2Y12.

Cangrelor has been evaluated in a two-part phase 2 trial in patients undergoing PCI.39 For part one, 200 patients were randomized to an 18- to 24-h infusion of cangrelor (in doses of 1, 2, or 4 μg/kg/min) or placebo in addition to aspirin plus heparin. In the second part, an additional 199 patients were randomized to IV cangrelor (at a dose of 4 μg/kg/min) or abciximab prior to PCI. In the first part of the study, the primary end point, the combination of major and minor bleeding up to 7 days, occurred in 13% of patients given cangrelor and in 8% of those given placebo, a difference that was not statistically significant.39 In the second part, major plus minor bleeding occurred in 7% and 10% of those randomized to cangrelor or abciximab, respectively. The 30-day composite of adverse cardiac events (death, MI, or unplanned repeat coronary intervention) was not significantly different in patients randomized to cangrelor or abciximab (7.6% and 5.3%, respectively).

Building on these phase 2 data, cangrelor was investigated in two double-blind phase 3 trials. In the Cangrelor vs Standard Therapy to Achieve Optimal Management of Platelet Inhibition (CHAMPION)-PCI trial, 8,877 patients scheduled for PCI were randomized to receive IV cangrelor (30 μg/kg bolus followed by an infusion of 4 μg/kg/min) or placebo starting 30 min prior to PCI and continuing for at least 2 h after completion of the procedure.40 Patients received 600 mg of clopidogrel or placebo at the time of the infusion. At the end of the infusion, the transition from IV cangrelor to clopidogrel was facilitated by administration of 600 mg of clopidogrel to those in the cangrelor group and administration of placebo to those in the clopidogrel group. All patients received aspirin. The primary efficacy end point, a composite of all-cause mortality, MI, or ischemia-driven revascularization within 48 h of PCI, occurred in 7.5% of those randomized to cangrelor and 7.1% of those given placebo (HR, 1.05; 95% CI, 0.88-1.24; P = .59). Rates of major bleeding were similar with cangrelor or clopidogrel (3.6% and 2.9%, respectively; P = .06), but rates of minor bleeding were higher with cangrelor (17.6% and 15.2%, respectively; P = .003).

In the CHAMPION PLATFORM trial, 5,362 patients with non-ST-elevation MI or unstable angina with at least one coronary lesion amenable to PCI were randomized to receive cangrelor (in the same regimen that was used in the CHAMPION-PCI trial) or placebo at the time of PCI.41 Patients in the cangrelor group received 600 mg of clopidogrel after the cangrelor infusion stopped, whereas those in the placebo group received 600 mg of clopidogrel after the procedure. The primary efficacy end point, which was the same as that used in CHAMPION-PCI, occurred in 7.0% of those given cangrelor and in 8.0% of patients randomized to placebo (HR, 0.87; 95% CI, 0.71-1.07; P = .17). Major bleeding was more frequent with cangrelor than with placebo (5.5% and 3.5%, respectively; P < .001). Based on the negative results of these two trials, more work is needed to determine the role of cangrelor in patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) undergoing PCI.

2.2.2 Ticagrelor:

An orally active agent belonging to the cyclopentyl-triazolopyrimidine class, ticagrelor acts as a direct inhibitor of P2Y12.42 Ticagrelor binds to the receptor at a location distinct from the ADP binding site and blocks ADP-mediated receptor activation in a noncompetitive fashion, likely through an allosteric mechanism. Like cangrelor, ticagrelor does not require hepatic conversion to an active metabolite. Consequently, the drug has a rapid onset of action and within 30 min achieves a level of inhibition of ADP-induced platelet exceeding that obtained with a 300- or 600-mg loading dose of clopidogrel.43 The peak inhibitory effect of ticagrelor is seen about 2 h after a loading dose of ticagrelor of 180 mg or a maintenance dose of 90 mg bid.

When compared with clopidogrel in 200 patients with atherosclerosis treated with aspirin, ticagrelor, in doses of 100 or 200 mg bid or 400 mg once daily, produced more rapid and more potent inhibition of ADP-induced platelet aggregation.44 The Dose Confirmation Study Assessing Antiplatelet Effects of ticagrelor vs Clopidogrel in non-ST-elevation MI (DISPERSE 2) compared ticagrelor plus aspirin with clopidogrel plus aspirin in 990 patients with non-ST-segment elevation ACS.45 Patients were randomized to receive ticagrelor (90 or 180 mg bid) or clopidogrel (75 mg once daily). One-half of the patients randomized to ticagrelor were given a loading dose of 270 mg, whereas the other one-half only received the maintenance dose. The primary end point, a combination of major and minor bleeding, occurred in 10.2% of patients given either dose of ticagrelor and in 9.2% of those treated with clopidogrel.

Building on the promising phase 2 data, ticagrelor (180 mg loading dose followed by 90 mg bid thereafter) was compared with clopidogrel (300 to 600 mg loading dose followed by 75 mg daily thereafter) for prevention of cardiovascular events in 18,624 patients with acute coronary syndrome in the Study of Platelet Inhibition and Patient Outcomes (PLATO) trial.46 At 12 months, the primary efficacy end point—a composite of cardiovascular death, MI, or stroke—occurred in 9.8% of patients treated with ticagrelor and in 11.7% of those given clopidogrel (HR, 0.84; 95% CI, 0.77-0.92; P < .001). The rate of MI was lower with ticagrelor than with clopidogrel (5.8% and 6.9%, respectively; P = .005), as were the rates of cardiovascular mortality (4.0% and 5.1%, respectively; P = .001) and all-cause mortality (4.5% and 5.9%, respectively; P < .001). In contrast, the rate of stroke was similar with ticagrelor and clopidogrel (1.5% and 1.3%, respectively; P = .22). Although there was no significant difference in the rates of major bleeding with ticagrelor and clopidogrel (11.6% and 11.2%, respectively; P = .43), ticagrelor was associated with a higher rate of major bleeding not related to coronary artery bypass graft surgery (4.5% and 3.8%, respectively; P = .03), including more fatal intracranial bleeds (0.1% and 0.01%, respectively; P = .02).

Of the 18,624 patients entered in the PLATO trial, an invasive strategy was planned for 72%. In this subset, the primary composite end point occurred in 9.0% of patients randomized to ticagrelor and in 10.7% of those given clopidogrel (HR, 0.84; 95% CI, 0.75-0.94; P = .0025). Rates of major bleeding were similar with ticagrelor and clopidogrel (11.6% and 16.5%, respectively; P = .88).

PLATO-STEMI focused on the 7,544 patients with ST-elevation MI included in the PLATO trial who were scheduled to undergo primary PCI.47 Of these patients, 75% received a stent, the majority of which were bare metal stents. In this subset, the primary efficacy end point occurred in 9.4% of patients randomized to ticagrelor and in 10.8% of those given clopidogrel (HR, 0.87; 95% CI, 0.75-1.01; P = .07). The rate of MI was lower with ticagrelor than with clopidogrel (4.7% and 5.8%, respectively; P = .03), as was all-cause mortality (5.0% and 6.1%, respectively; P = .05). Definite stent thrombosis occurred in 1.6% of patients taking ticagrelor and in 2.4% of those given clopidogrel (HR, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.45-0.95; P = .03). There was no increase in the rate of major bleeding with ticagrelor compared with clopidogrel (9.0% and 9.2%, respectively; P = .76).

Outcomes in the 1,899 patients enrolled in the PLATO trial who underwent coronary artery bypass graft surgery postrandomization were reported in PLATO-CABG.48 The protocol recommended withholding ticagrelor (or placebo) for 1 to 3 days and clopidogrel (or placebo) for 5 days prior to surgery, but among the 1,261 patients who underwent coronary artery bypass graft surgery within 7 days of stopping study drug, only 30.1% stopped within 2 days, 43.8% stopped within 3 to 5 days, and 26.1% stopped > 5 days prior to surgery. The corresponding numbers for clopidogrel were 27.7%, 37.9%, and 34.5%. In this subset, the primary efficacy end point occurred in 10.6% of patients randomized to ticagrelor and 13.1% of those who received clopidogrel (HR, 0.84; 95% CI, 0.60-1.16; P = .29). The rate of cardiovascular death was lower with ticagrelor than with clopidogrel (4.1% and 7.9%, respectively; P < .01), as was all-cause mortality (4.7% and 9.7%, respectively; P < .01) but there was no difference in MI or stroke and no reduction in CABG-related bleeding.

Side effects of ticagrelor include dyspnea, which is usually mild and dose related,49 asymptomatic bradycardia with ventricular pauses,46 and a modest increase in the levels of uric acid. The mechanisms responsible for these side effects are unclear. One possible explanation relates to the capacity of ticagrelor to inhibit adenosine reuptake by erythrocytes, thereby increasing circulating levels of adenosine. In addition to explaining the dyspnea and the bradycardia, the resultant adenosine-induced vasodilatation and increased myocardial perfusion could also endow ticagrelor with beneficial effects that are independent of P2Y12 blockade.

2.2.3 Elinogrel:

A reversible P2Y12 inhibitor available in both IV and oral formulation, elinogrel is a competitive inhibitor of P2Y12 that blocks ADP binding to the receptor.50 Consequently, the drug inhibits platelet aggregation in response to low concentrations of ADP, but its inhibitory effects can be overcome with higher ADP concentrations. This phenomenon could endow elinogrel with a favorable risk-benefit profile if ADP concentrations are higher with hemostatic plug formation than with intravascular thrombosis.

The Early Rapid Reversal of Platelet Thrombosis with Intravenous Elinogrel before PCI to Optimize Acute MI (ERASE MI) dose-escalation pilot study evaluated the safety and tolerability of a single IV bolus of elinogrel, in doses of 10, 20, 40, or 60 mg, compared with placebo given before the start of the diagnostic angiogram preceding primary PCI in 70 patients with ST-elevation MI.51 All patients received a 600-mg loading dose of clopidogrel followed by a second 300-mg loading dose of clopidogrel 4 h after the procedure. The primary outcome was major bleeding, which was infrequent and occurred at a rate with all doses of elinogrel that was similar to the rate with placebo. However, the trial was stopped early for administrative reasons and subsequent studies used oral elinogrel in place of clopidogrel after the initial IV elinogrel bolus.

In the phase 2 Intravenous and Oral Administration of Elinogrel vs Clopidogrel to Evaluate Tolerability and Efficacy in Nonurgent PCI Patients (INNOVATE-PCI) study, 652 patients scheduled for nonurgent PCI were randomized to clopidogrel (300 to 600 mg load followed by 75 mg daily thereafter) or to elinogrel (80 mg IV bolus followed by oral dosing of 50, 100, or 150 mg bid thereafter).52 The Data Safety Monitoring Board recommended discontinuation of the 50-mg oral dose and suggested increasing the IV dose to 120 mg. The study was not powered for efficacy, but patients given elinogrel exhibited greater platelet inhibition than those treated with clopidogrel.

Dyspnea occurred more frequently with elinogrel than with clopidogrel. Abnormal liver function tests also were more common with elinogrel, but the abnormalities appeared to resolve over time, even if the drug was continued.51,52

Elinogrel will soon undergo phase 3 evaluation in aspirin-treated patients with a history of MI within the past 6 months to 5 years. Such patients will be randomized to elinogrel (in one of two doses) or to placebo for approximately 29 months. The primary efficacy outcome will be the composite of cardiovascular mortality, MI, or stroke. A phase 3 trial evaluating IV and oral elinogrel in patients with ACS is likely to follow.

2.3 PAR-1 Antagonists

PAR-1 belongs to a family of G-protein-coupled receptors that are activated by proteolytic cleavage.53 Human platelets express PAR-1 and PAR-4, both of which can be activated by thrombin to induce platelet secretion and aggregation. Although activation of either receptor can cause platelet aggregation independently of the other, PAR-1 and PAR-4 act synergistically to induce platelet activation. However, the affinity of PAR-1 for thrombin is 40-fold higher than that of PAR-4. Consequently, PAR-1 is activated by relatively low concentrations of thrombin, whereas PAR-4 activation requires higher thrombin concentrations. Therefore, PAR-1 is considered to be the major thrombin receptor on human platelets.53

PAR-1 also is found on endothelial cells, smooth muscle cells, fibroblasts, and cardiac myocytes.53 Thrombin-mediated activation of PAR-1 on these cells may contribute to the proliferative and proinflammatory effects of thrombin. Therefore, it is possible that PAR-1 antagonism will not only attenuate arterial thrombosis but may also modulate other thrombin-mediated processes, including restenosis. Two orally active PAR-1 antagonists are under investigation; vorapaxar and atopaxar (Table 3).

Table Graphic Jump Location
Table 3 —[Section 2.3] PAR-1 Antagonists: Comparison of the Features of Vorapaxar and Atopaxar

PAR-1 = protease-activated receptor 1. See Table 1 legend for expansion of other abbreviation.

2.3.1 Vorapaxar:

A synthetic tricyclic 3-phenylpyridine analog of himbacine, an alkaloid isolated from the bark of Australian magnolia trees that is used in several natural products, vorapaxar is a potent and specific competitive inhibitor of PAR-1.54 The drug has excellent oral bioavailability and produces dose-dependent inhibition of thrombin- or thrombin receptor agonist peptide (TRAP)-induced platelet aggregation. Vorapaxar does not affect platelet aggregation in response to other agonists nor does it affect thrombin-mediated conversion of fibrinogen to fibrin. Vorapaxar has a long half-life of 126 to 269 h and inhibits TRAP-induced platelet aggregation for up to 4 weeks. Although the binding of vorapaxar to PAR-1 is reversible, dissociation of the drug from the receptor is slow, which may explain the long half-life. Vorapaxar is metabolized by CYP3A4.53

In phase 1 studies, vorapaxar did not appear to prolong the bleeding time when administered to healthy volunteers.55 A phase 2 study in 1,031 patients scheduled for coronary angiography and possible PCI randomized patients to vorapaxar (at loading doses of 10, 20, or 40 mg) or placebo in a 3:1 ratio.56 A total of 573 patients underwent PCI, all of whom received aspirin, clopidogrel, and an anticoagulant (either heparin or bivalirudin). Those randomized to vorapaxar received maintenance therapy at doses of 0.5, 1.0, or 2.5 mg once daily for 2 months. The primary outcome, a combination of thrombolysis in myocardial infarction (TIMI) major and minor bleeding, occurred in 3.3% of the 151 patients randomized to placebo and in 2.8% of the 422 patients given vorapaxar. Major bleeding occurred in 1.3% and 0.7%, respectively. The efficacy end point of death, major adverse coronary events, or stroke occurred in 8.6% of patients randomized to placebo and in 6.2% of those given vorapaxar.

The safety of vorapaxar observed in the Thrombin Receptor Antagonist (TRA)-PCI study was confirmed in two small randomized trials conducted in Japanese patients. In the first, a total of 117 patients undergoing PCI for a non-ST elevation ACS were randomized to vorapaxar for 60 days (either 20- or 40-mg loading dose, followed by 1- or 2.5-mg daily maintenance dose) or placebo in addition to standard-of-care antithrombotic therapy.57 No differences were observed in the rate of the primary safety end point (TIMI major and minor bleeding), but compared with placebo, vorapaxar reduced the rate of nonfatal MI (42.9% and 16.9%, respectively; P = .013). In the second study, which evaluated the safety of vorapaxar in patients with a history of ischemic stroke,58 vorapaxar (1 or 2.5 mg daily) or placebo was administered to 90 such patients for 60 days. All patients received aspirin. Event rates were low, and vorapaxar appeared to be safe in this setting.

Building on these phase 2 results, vorapaxar underwent phase 3 evaluation in two large clinical trials: Thrombin Receptor Antagonists for Clinical Event Reduction (TRA-CER)59 and Thrombin Receptor Antagonist in Secondary Prevention of Atherothrombotic Ischemic Events (TRA2P-TIMI 50).60 TRA-CER was a randomized, double-blind trial that compared vorapaxar with placebo on top of standard-of-care treatment with aspirin and/or clopidogrel in 13,000 patients with non-ST-elevation ACS. Follow-up in the trial was terminated early because of safety concerns. After a median follow-up of 502 days, the rates of the primary efficacy outcome (a composite of cardiovascular death, MI, stroke, hospitalization for recurrent ischemia, or urgent coronary revascularization) in the vorapaxar and placebo groups were 18.5% and 19.9%, respectively (HR, 0.29; 95% CI, 0.85-1.01; P = .07). The composite of cardiovascular death, MI, or stroke was lower with vorapaxar than with placebo (14.7% and 16.4%, respectively; HR, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.81-0.98; P = .02). Rates of moderate and severe bleeding were higher with vorapaxar than with placebo (7.2% and 5.2%, respectively) and there was more intracranial bleeding with vorapaxar (1.1% and 0.2%). Thus, addition of vorapaxar to standard therapy did not reduce the composite end point, but significantly increased the risk of bleeding.

TRA2P-TIMI 50 is a randomized double-blind trial compared vorapaxar (2.5 mg daily) with placebo on top of standard antiplatelet therapy (with aspirin and/or a thienopyridine) in about 26,500 patients with a history of MI, stroke, or PAD. After safety review, vorapaxar was discontinued in patients with a stroke prior to entry or during the course of the trial because of excess bleeding.

2.3.2 Atopaxar:

A reversible PAR-1 antagonist, atopaxar binds PAR-1 with high affinity and blocks thrombin and TRAP-induced platelet aggregation.53 Like vorapaxar, atopaxar is a small molecule chemically identified as 1-(3-tert-butyl-4-methoxy-5-morpholinophenyl)-2-(5,6-dieth-oxy-7-fluoro-1-imino-1,3-dihydro-2H-isoindolyl-2) ethanone hydrobromide. Because atopaxar inhibits TRAP binding to PAR-1, it is likely that the drug interacts with PAR-1 at or near the tethered ligand binding site. Atopaxar exhibits good oral bioavailability and is rapidly absorbed.

Maximal platelet inhibition is achieved within 3 to 5 h of dosing and the half-life is about 23 h. Like vorapaxar, atopaxar does not appear to prolong the bleeding time when administered to healthy volunteers.53

In the first of the phase 2 Lessons from Antagonizing the Cellular Effect of Thrombin in Japanese Patients (J-LANCELOT) trials, 241 patients with ACS (unstable angina or non-ST-elevation MI) were given atopaxar (loading dose of 400 mg followed by either placebo or atopaxar 50, 100, or 200 mg daily thereafter) for 12 weeks.61 More than 95% of the patients were also taking aspirin and clopidogrel. In the second trial, 263 patients with coronary artery disease were randomized to placebo or the same doses of atopaxar for 24 weeks.54 All patients were taking aspirin, and about 40% were also receiving clopidogrel. The primary end point in these studies was bleeding events; the secondary end points were major adverse cardiovascular events, including cardiovascular death, MI, stroke, or recurrent ischemia, and inhibition of platelet aggregation. There was a nonsignificant trend toward an increase in bleeding with increasing doses of atopaxar. The combination of major plus minor bleeding and minimal bleeding requiring medical attention was similar in patients receiving placebo and those given atopaxar (6.6% and 5.0%, respectively, in the first study and 1.5% in both groups in the second study). The studies were underpowered for efficacy, but at trough levels, atopaxar produced a mean of > 90% inhibition of platelet aggregation with the 100- or 200-mg doses and 20% to 60% inhibition with the 50-mg dose.54

The clinical development plan for atopaxar is uncertain. Unexplained increased transaminase levels were noted in up to 15% of patients receiving atopaxar.61 In addition, prolongation of the QTc interval was seen with higher doses of atopaxar in the phase 2 studies.61 Additional studies are needed to determine the clinical significance of these findings.

Anticoagulants can inhibit the initiation or propagation of coagulation, or, by targeting thrombin, they can attenuate fibrin formation. Drugs that target the tissue factor/factor VIIa complex block the initiation of coagulation, whereas those that inhibit factor IXa or factor Xa, or their cofactors, factor VIIIa and factor Va, block the propagation of coagulation. Finally, anticoagulants that target thrombin attenuate fibrin generation (Fig 2). New anticoagulants can be further subclassified as direct or indirect inhibitors (Fig 3). Direct inhibitors bind directly to the target enzyme and block substrate interactions. In contrast, indirect inhibitors exert their anticoagulant effects by binding to naturally occurring plasma cofactors, such as antithrombin or heparin cofactor II, thereby accelerating their interaction with clotting enzymes.

Figure Jump LinkFigure 2. Sites of action of new anticoagulants in more advanced stages of development. NAPc2 = nematode anticoagulant peptide c2.Grahic Jump Location
Figure Jump LinkFigure 3. Classification of new anticoagulants. Indirect anticoagulants act in an AT-dependent fashion or exert their effect via the protein C pathway. Direct anticoagulants do not require a plasma cofactor. Instead, these agents directly target a specific coagulation enzyme. AT = antithrombin. See Figure 2 legend for expansion of other abbreviation.Grahic Jump Location
3.1 Inhibitors of Initiation of Coagulation

Drugs that target the factor VIIa/tissue factor complex inhibit the initiation of coagulation. Only parenteral agents in this category have reached phase 2 or 3 clinical testing (Table 4). These include tifacogin, which is a recombinant form of tissue factory pathway inhibitor, recombinant nematode anticoagulant peptide (NAPc2), and active site inhibited factor VIIa (factor VIIai).

Table Graphic Jump Location
Table 4 —[Section 3.4] Inhibitors of the Factor VIIa-Tissue Factor Complex

NAPc2 = nematode anticoagulant peptide c2.

3.1.1 Tifacogin:

A recombinant form of tissue factory pathway inhibitor, tifacogin has been evaluated in patients with sepsis. The drug has a half-life of minutes, which necessitates IV infusion, and is cleared by the liver. In a phase 2 trial,62 210 patients with sepsis were randomized to receive one of two doses of tifacogin (25 or 50 mg/kg/h) by continuous infusion or placebo for 4 days. Compared with placebo, tifacogin produced a 20% relative reduction in 28-day mortality. Major bleeding occurred in 9% of patients treated with tifacogin and in 6% of those given placebo, a nonsignificant difference. Building on these results, a phase 3 trial compared tifacogin with placebo in 1,754 patients with severe sepsis.63 The primary end point, 28-day mortality, was similar with tifacogin and placebo (34.2% and 33.9%, respectively), whereas the rate of bleeding was significantly higher with tifacogin (6.5% and 4.8%, respectively). A post hoc subgroup analysis suggested a benefit of tifacogin in the 780 patients with severe community-acquired pneumonia; in this subset, 28-day mortality was 27.9% with tifacogin and 32.7% with placebo.64 Differences in mortality were greater in patients with more severe disease who did not receive adjunctive heparin. Based on this analysis, a phase 3 double-blind trial compared two doses of tifacogin with placebo in about 2,100 patients with severe community-acquired pneumonia.65 Although enrollment was completed in 2008, the results of this trial have not been reported.

3.1.2 NAPc2:

An 85-amino acid polypeptide originally isolated from the canine hookworm, Ancylostoma caninum,66 recombinant NAPc2 is expressed in yeast. NAPc2 binds to a noncatalytic site on factor X or factor Xa.67 Once bound to factor Xa, the NAPc2/factor Xa complex inhibits tissue factor-bound factor VIIa. Because it binds factor X with high affinity, NAPc2 has a half-life of approximately 50 h after subcutaneous injection.68 Consequently, the drug can be given on alternate days.

Initial clinical trials with NAPc2 focused on venous thromboprophylaxis. In a phase 2 dose-finding study,69 293 patients undergoing elective knee arthroplasty were given subcutaneous NAPc2 on the day of surgery and every second day thereafter to a maximum of 4 doses. The best results were observed with a NAPc2 dose of 3.0 mg/kg administered 1 h after surgery. With this dose, the rate of venographically-detected DVT in the operated leg was 12%, whereas the rate of proximal DVT was 1%. Major bleeding occurred in 2% of patients.

In a series of phase 2 studies, NAPc2 was evaluated in patients with unstable angina or non-ST-elevation ACS and in those undergoing PCI. Addition of NAPc2 to usual antithrombotic therapy in 203 patients with non-ST-elevation ACS reduced levels of prothrombin fragment 1.2 in a dose-dependent fashion without increasing the risk of bleeding.70 In a second study, adjunctive NAPc2 (in doses ranging from 3.5-10 μg/kg) suppressed levels of prothrombin fragment 1.2 in patients undergoing elective PCI.71 Despite these promising initial results, the disease focus for NAPc2 shifted from thrombosis to cancer to capitalize on emerging evidence that tissue factor plays a role in tumor progression. However, a phase 2 study examining the feasibility of administering escalating doses of twice-weekly subcutaneous NAPc2 as an adjunct to chemotherapy for metastatic colon cancer was suspended.72 The data from this study have not been reported and development of NAPc2 appears to have halted, at least temporarily.

3.1.3 Factor VIIai:

Recombinant factor VIIa that has its active site irreversibly blocked competes with factor VIIa for tissue factor binding, thereby attenuating the initiation of coagulation by the factor VIIa/tissue factor complex. Based on promising results in animal models of thrombosis,73,74 factor VIIai, given in doses ranging from 50 to 400 mg/kg with or without adjunctive heparin was compared with heparin alone in 491 patients undergoing elective PCI.75 Factor VIIai, with or without adjunctive heparin, produced no significant reduction in the primary end point, a composite of death, MI, need for urgent revascularization, abrupt vessel closure, or bailout use of glycoprotein IIb/IIIa antagonists or heparin at day 7 or at hospital discharge. Rates of major bleeding were similar with factor VIIai and heparin. Because of these disappointing results, factor VIIai has not been developed further for treatment of arterial thrombosis.

3.2 Inhibitors of Propagation of Coagulation

Propagation of coagulation can be inhibited by drugs that target factors IXa or Xa or by agents that inactivate their respective cofactors, factors VIIIa and Va, respectively.

3.2.1 Factor IXa Inhibitors:

Both parenteral and oral factor IXa inhibitors have been developed (Table 5). The parenteral agents include factor IX-directed monoclonal antibodies and pegnivacogin, a factor IXa-directed aptamer. Development of TTP889, the only oral factor IXa inhibitor, has been halted.

Table Graphic Jump Location
Table 5 —[Section 3.2.1] Factor IXa Inhibitors
3.2.1.1 Factor IX-Directed Antibodies

—Several monoclonal antibodies directed against various factor IX epitopes have been developed. Of these, SB 249417, a humanized mouse monoclonal antibody directed against the Gla-domain of factor IX, has undergone the most extensive investigation. The antibody exhibited antithrombotic activity comparable to that of enoxaparin in a rat arterial thrombosis model, but produced less prolongation of the activated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT).76 In a rat model of thromboembolic stroke, the antibody reduced infarct volumes and neurologic deficits to a greater extent than t-PA.77

SB249417 has undergone limited evaluation in humans. In a phase 1 study in 26 human volunteers, a 50-min infusion of antibody prolonged the aPTT in a dose-dependent fashion.78 Development of the antibody has been stopped.

3.2.1.2 Pegnivacogin

—A specific factor IXa-directed RNA aptamer, pegnivacogin, which was previously known as RB006, was isolated from a library of 104 nucleic acid species.79 Cholesterol was conjugated to the 5′ end of pegnivacogin to extend its circulating half-life to about 12 h. Pegnivacogin binds to both factor IX and factor IXa with high affinity and not only inhibits factor IXa activity, but also blocks the activation of factor IX by the factor VIIa-tissue factor complex, but not by factor XIa. As such, pegnivacogin prolongs the aPTT in a dose-dependent fashion but has no effect on the prothrombin time. A unique feature of pegnivacogin is that its anticoagulant activity can be rapidly reversed with a complementary aptamer, anivamersen (previously known as RB007). Anivamersen exerts its inhibitory effect by binding to pegnivacogin and releasing it from factor IX or factor IXa.

In a phase 1 study, pegnivacogin and anivamersen were evaluated in 85 healthy volunteers.80 These individuals received increasing IV bolus doses of pegnivacogin or placebo followed 3 h later by IV bolus doses of anivamersen or placebo. At pegnivacogin doses of 30 to 60 mg, there was a dose-dependent prolongation of the aPTT and activated clotting time that was rapidly restored to baseline values with anivamersen administration.

Two early phase 2 studies evaluated the safety and tolerability of pegnivacogin and anivamersen in patients with coronary artery disease.81,82 In the first of these studies, 50 patients with stable coronary artery disease taking aspirin and/or clopidogrel received an IV bolus of pegnivacogin at doses of 15, 30, 50, or 75 mg. Pegnivacogin prolonged the aPTT in a concentration-dependent fashion. Subsequent administration of anivamersen (at doses of 30, 60, 100, or 150 mg) restored the aPTT to baseline levels within a median of 1 min (25th and 75th percentiles, 1 and 2 min, respectively) with no rebound increase through 7 days.81 In the second study, 24 patients undergoing nonurgent PCI were randomized in a 5:1 ratio to receive pegnivacogin or unfractionated heparin with immediate or delayed reversal of pegnivacogin after the procedure.82 All procedures were successful and both reversal strategies enabled successful sheath removal.

In the phase 2 Randomized, Active-Controlled, Dose-Ranging Study Assessing the Safety, Efficacy and Pharmacodynamics of the REG1 Anticoagulation System (RADAR) study, 640 patients with ACS scheduled for cardiac catheterization were randomly allocated to receive open-label pegnivacogin (1 mg/kg) or unfractionated heparin in a 4:1 ratio prior to PCI. After the procedure, patients given pegnivacogin then were given anivamersen at four different doses designed to produce 25%, 50%, 75%, or 100% reversal.

Recruitment into the lowest-dose anivamersen arm was stopped early because of a higher rate of major bleeding compared with heparin (20.0% and 10.1%, respectively). Rates of major bleeding with doses of anivamersen that produced 50%, 75%, or 100% reversal were 10.6%, 8.4%, and 7.3%, respectively. There was a trend for fewer ischemic events with pegnivacogin than with heparin (3.0% and 5.7%, respectively), but the total number of events was small. Sheaths were removed at a mean of 24 min after the procedure in patients given pegnivacogin and after 3 h in those given heparin. Three allergic reactions were reported with pegnivacogin. Although two were mild, one patient required hemodynamic support. The mechanism responsible for these reactions has not been elucidated.

3.2.1.3 TTP889

—An orally active partial inhibitor of factor IXa inhibitor, TTP889 exhibited antithrombotic activity in rat and porcine arteriovenous shunt models. A small phase 1 study was reported as showing a predictable pharmacokinetic profile after single or multiple dose administration and a half-life of about 20 h. In a phase 2 proof-of-concept study, 261 patients undergoing surgery for hip fracture were given conventional anticoagulant prophylaxis for 1 week and were then randomized to receive once daily oral TTP889 (at a dose of 300 mg) or placebo for 3 weeks, at which point bilateral venography was performed.83 The primary efficacy outcome was VTE, which occurred in 32.1% of patients randomized to TTP889 and in 28.2% of those given placebo (P = .58). There were no major bleeding events and only two clinically relevant nonmajor bleeding events with TTP889. Because of the negative results, development of TTP889 was halted.

3.2.2 Factor Xa Inhibitors:

New factor Xa inhibitors include agents that block factor Xa indirectly or directly. Indirect inhibitors are given parenterally and act by catalyzing factor Xa inhibition by antithrombin. In contrast, direct factor Xa inhibitors bind directly to the active site of factor Xa, thereby blocking its interaction with its substrates. New direct factor Xa inhibitors include otamixaban, which is given IV, and a number of orally active drugs. Unlike the heparin/antithrombin complex, which has limited capacity to inhibit factor Xa incorporated into the prothrombinase complex,84,85 direct factor Xa inhibitors inhibit both free and platelet-bound factor Xa.86,87 This property may endow these agents with an advantage over indirect factor Xa inhibitors.

3.2.2.1 Indirect Factor Xa Inhibitors

—The prototype for most of the new indirect factor Xa inhibitors is fondaparinux, a first-generation synthetic analog of the antithrombin-binding pentasaccharide found in heparin or low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH). Based on the results of well-designed randomized clinical trials, fondaparinux is licensed for prevention of VTE in patients undergoing high-risk orthopedic surgery and, in some countries, for VTE prevention in general surgical or medical patients. Fondaparinux also is approved as a substitute for heparin or LMWH for initial treatment of VTE. In addition, fondaparinux has been licensed in Europe and Canada, but not in the United States, as an alternative to heparin or LMWH for the treatment of ACS. Three of the newer indirect factor Xa inhibitors, idraparinux, idrabiotaparinux, and SR123781A, are second- and third-generation variants of fondaparinux, whereas M118 and semuloparin are LMWH derivatives (Table 6).

Table Graphic Jump Location
Table 6 —[Section 3.2.2.1] Antithrombin-Dependent Indirect Factor Xa Inhibitors

LMWH = low-molecular-weight heparin.

Idraparinux: A hypermethylated derivative of fondaparinux, idraparinux binds antithrombin with such high affinity that its plasma half-life of 80 h is similar to that of antithrombin.88 Because of its long half-life, idraparinux can be given subcutaneously on a once-weekly basis. In a phase 2 dose-finding trial, idraparinux was compared with warfarin in 659 patients with proximal DVT.89 After a 5- to 7-day course of enoxaparin, patients were randomized to receive once-weekly subcutaneous idraparinux (2.5, 5.0, 7.5, or 10 mg) or warfarin (dose-adjusted to achieve an international normalized ratio [INR] of 2-3) for 12 weeks. The primary end point, thrombus burden, as assessed by measuring changes in compression ultrasound and perfusion lung scan findings, was similar in all idraparinux groups and did not differ from that in the warfarin group. There was a clear dose-response for major bleeding in patients given idraparinux, with an unacceptably high frequency in those given the 10-mg dose. Patients given the lowest dose of idraparinux had less bleeding than those randomized to warfarin (P = .029). Based on these results, a once-weekly 2.5 mg dose of idraparinux was chosen for further trials.

The phase 3 Van Gogh DVT and PE trials90 randomized 2,904 patients with acute symptomatic DVT and 2,215 patients with PE to either a 3- to 6-month course of once-weekly subcutaneous idraparinux (at a dose of 2.5 mg) or to conventional therapy with LMWH or heparin followed by a vitamin K antagonist with the dose adjusted to achieve an INR between 2 and 3. In the patients with DVT, the rate of recurrent VTE at 3 months was similar in the idraparinux and conventionally treated groups (2.9% and 3.0%, respectively). Clinically relevant bleeding events were less common with idraparinux than with conventional treatment (4.5% and 7.0%, respectively; P = .004). In the patients with PE, idraparinux was less effective than conventional therapy at 3 months. Thus, recurrent VTE occurred in 3.4% of patients given idraparinux and in 1.6% of those receiving conventional therapy. Clinically relevant bleeding occurred in 5.8% of those given idraparinux and in 8.2% of those treated with heparin or LMWH followed by a vitamin K antagonist. The discordant results in the DVT and PE trials highlight the importance of adequate levels of anticoagulation for initial PE treatment because the majority of the recurrences occurred early. These findings suggest that patients with PE may require higher initial doses of idraparinux than patients with DVT.

The efficacy of long-term idraparinux was evaluated in the Van Gogh extension study.91 In this trial, 1,215 patients who had completed 6 months of initial treatment of DVT or PE with either idraparinux or a vitamin K antagonist were randomized to an additional 6 months of treatment with either once-weekly subcutaneous idraparinux or with placebo. Compared with placebo, idraparinux produced a 72.9% relative reduction in the risk of recurrent VTE (P = .002), reducing recurrent events from 3.7% to 1%. Major bleeding occurred in 3.7% of those given idraparinux and included three fatal intracranial bleeding events. In contrast, there were no major bleeding events in the placebo group.

In the phase 3 AMADEUS trial, subcutaneous idraparinux (2.5 mg once weekly) was compared with warfarin (dose-adjusted to achieve a target INR of 2 to 3) for stroke prevention in patients with atrial fibrillation.92 Although the plan was to randomize 5,940 such patients to treatment of 18 months, the trial was stopped after randomization of only 4,576 patients with a mean follow-up of 10.7 months because of an excess of clinically relevant bleeding with idraparinux (19.7 and 11.3 per 100 patient-years, respectively; P < .0001), including an excess of intracranial bleeding with idraparinux compared with warfarin (1.1 and 0.4 per 100 patient-years, respectively; P = .014). There were 18 cases of thromboembolism with idraparinux and 27 cases with warfarin (0.9 and 1.3 per 100 patient-years, respectively; HR, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.39-1.30), a result that met the prespecified noninferiority criterion (noninferiority P = .007).

The results of the Van Gogh extension and the AMADEUS studies suggest that although idraparinux is a highly effective anticoagulant, it causes excessive bleeding. Based on this information, development of idraparinux was halted, and attention was shifted to idrabiotaparinux.

Idrabiotaparinux: A biotinylated form of idraparinux previously known as SSR126517E, idrabiotaparinux exhibits the same pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profile as idraparinux. Like idraparinux, idrabiotaparinux is given subcutaneously on a once-weekly basis. The only difference between the drugs is that the anticoagulant activity of idrabiotaparinux can be rapidly neutralized by IV administration of avidin. A large tetrameric protein derived from egg white, avidin binds the biotin moiety of idrabiotaparinux with high affinity, thereby forming a 1:1 stoichiometric complex that is rapidly cleared by the kidneys.

In the phase 3 Bioequipotency Study of SSR126517E and Idraparinux in Patients with Deep Venous Thrombosis of the Lower Limbs (EQUINOX) trial, 757 patients with DVT were randomized to receive equimolar doses of once-weekly subcutaneous idrabiotaparinux or idraparinux (3 mg and 2.5 mg, respectively) for 6 months.93 Recurrent VTE occurred in 2.3% of the patients randomized to idrabiotaparinux and in 3.2% of those given idraparinux. The rates of clinically relevant bleeding in the idrabiotaparinux and idraparinux groups were 5.2% and 7.3%, respectively (P = .29). Both agents inhibited factor Xa to a similar extent.

Reversibility of idraparinux was demonstrated in two studies.94 First, in a double-blind phase 1 study, 41 healthy males received idrabiotaparinux prior to being randomized to a 30-min infusion of either 100 mg of avidin or placebo. In eight of these subjects, idrabiotaparinux plus avidin was readministered 10 to 14 months later. Avidin infusion rapidly reduced anti-factor Xa activity by 66.1% to 90.3%. Similar results were obtained with readministration of idrabiotaparinux and avidin. The second study involved a subset of 55 patients who received idrabiotaparinux in the EQUINOX trial. These patients were srandomized to receive either 100 mg avidin (n = 33) or placebo (n = 22). Avidin was well tolerated and reduced the anti-Xa activity by 67% to 97%.

The ongoing phase 3 Clinical Study Assessing SSR126517E Injections Once-weekly in Pulmonary Embolism Therapeutic Approach (CASSIOPEA) trial is comparing 3 to 6 months of subcutaneous idrabiotaparinux (3 mg once weekly) with conventional anticoagulant therapy for prevention of recurrent VTE in 3,200 patients with acute PE. The phase 3 Evaluation of Once-weekly Biotinylated Idraparinux vs Oral Adjusted-dose Warfarin to Prevent Stroke and Systemic Thromboembolic Events in patients with Atrial Fibrillation (BOREALIS-AF) trial, which compared the same idrabiotaparinux regimen with warfarin for prevention of stroke or systemic embolism in patients with atrial fibrillation, was stopped early, but the results are not yet available. With only the EQUINOX and CASSIOPEA trial results to support its use, it is likely that the role of idrabiotaparinux will be limited.

SR123781A: A synthetic hexadecasaccharide, SR123781A is composed of the antithrombin-binding synthetic pentasaccharide plus a thrombin-binding sulfated tetrasaccharide joined together by a central nonsulfated heptasaccharide. SR123781A binds antithrombin with high affinity.95 In addition to catalyzing factor Xa inhibition by antithrombin, SR123781A is long enough to bridge antithrombin to thrombin, thereby enhancing thrombin inhibition. Like heparin, therefore, SR123781A catalyzes the inhibition of both factor Xa and thrombin.95 Unlike heparin, however, SR123781A does not bind platelet factor 4 (PF4) or fibrin. Because it does not bind PF4, heparin-induced thrombocytopenia is unlikely to occur with SR123781A. Without affinity for fibrin, SR123781A does not promote the formation of the ternary heparin/thrombin/fibrin complex that protects fibrin-bound thrombin from inhibition by the antithrombin/heparin complex.96 In contrast to heparin, therefore, SR123781A appears capable of inhibiting fibrin-bound thrombin.97

SR123781A is administered subcutaneously. It exhibits almost complete bioavailability after subcutaneous administration and produces a dose-proportional increase in anti-factor Xa activity and the aPTT. The drug is primarily cleared by the kidneys, where it is excreted intact.

Subcutaneous SR123781A, at doses ranging from 0.25 to 4 mg once daily, was compared with enoxaparin (40 mg once daily) in 1,023 patients undergoing elective hip arthroplasty.98 SR123781A reduced the rate of VTE in a dose-dependent fashion and the rates of VTE with the 2.0- and 4.0-mg doses (7.0% and 4.4%, respectively) were similar to that with enoxaparin (8.7%). Major bleeding occurred in 0.6% and 5.8% of patients given the 2.0- and 4.0-mg doses of SR123781A, respectively, and in 0.6% of those given enoxaparin. A phase 2 study comparing two different doses of SR123781A with heparin plus a glycoprotein IIb/IIIa antagonist in 180 patients with non-ST-elevation ACS undergoing PCI has been completed, but the results have not been reported.

M118: Obtained by depolymerization of unfractionated heparin, M118 is a novel LMWH that has a mean molecular weight of 6,500 and an anti-factor Xa to anti-factor IIa ratio of 1.4.99 The drug has a subcutaneous bioavailability of about 70% and a half-life of about 1 h after IV administration and 2 to 3 h after subcutaneous delivery. The anticoagulant activity is reversed with protamine sulfate and can be monitored using the aPTT.

In the phase 2 EMINENCE study, 503 patients undergoing PCI were randomized to receive either IV M118 (in doses of 50, 75, or 110 units/kg) or 70 units/kg of unfractionated heparin.100 The primary end point (a composite of death, MI, stroke, thrombocytopenia, catheter thrombus, bailout use of a glycoprotein IIb/IIIa antagonist, or any bleeding up to 20 days) occurred in 31.1% of patients given heparin and in 22.7%, 28.3%, and 30.1% of those randomized to the 50, 75, or 110 units/kg dose of M118, respectively. The rates of adverse events were similar across all study groups.

Semuloparin: An ultra-LMWH, semuloparin is synthesized from unfractionated heparin by selective and controlled depolymerization. With a mean molecular weight of 2,000 to 3,000, most of the semuloparin molecules are too short to bridge antithrombin to thrombin. Consequently, semuloparin has high anti-factor Xa activity and only minimal activity against thrombin. The drug is administered subcutaneously and exhibits 98% bioavailability. Peak plasma levels are achieved 3 h after subcutaneous injection and the half-life is 16 to 20 h, which enables once-daily administration. Excretion of the drug is primarily via the kidneys.

In phase 3 trials, semuloparin has been evaluated for postoperative thromboprophylaxis after hip or knee arthroplasty or after surgery for hip fracture, and for VTE prevention after major abdominal surgery. Enoxaparin was the comparator in all of these studies. Semuloparin also has been compared with placebo for VTE prevention in patients receiving chemotherapy for treatment of cancer. A trial comparing semuloparin with enoxaparin for thromboprophylaxis in hospitalized, medically ill patients was stopped.101

In the Evaluation of AVE5026 as Compared to Enoxaparin in Patients Undergoing Total Hip Replacement Surgery (SAVE-HIP1) trial, semuloparin (20 mg once daily) was compared with enoxaparin (40 mg once daily starting 12 h prior to surgery) in 2,326 patients undergoing elective hip arthroplasty.102 Both treatments were given for 7 to 10 days. In the 1,849 patients with evaluable venograms, the primary efficacy end point, a composite of VTE or all-cause mortality, occurred in 6.3% of those randomized to semuloparin and in 11.1% of those given enoxaparin (OR, 0.54; 95% CI, 0.38-0.76; P < .001). Rates of major bleeding were 0.3% and 1.2% with semuloparin and enoxaparin, respectively (OR, 0.28; 95% CI, 0.08-0.83) and rates of clinically relevant nonmajor bleeding with semuloparin and enoxaparin were 0.7% and 1.0%, respectively (OR, 0.73; 95% CI, 0.28-1.83).

The same dose regimens were compared in 1,003 patients undergoing surgery for hip fracture in the SAVE-HIP2 trial.103 In the 753 patients with evaluable venograms, the primary efficacy end point, a composite of VTE or all-cause mortality, occurred in 17.7% of those randomized to semuloparin and in 22.0% of those given enoxaparin (OR, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.53-1.12). The rates of major bleeding with semuloparin and enoxaparin were 1.0% and 0.6%, respectively, whereas the rates of clinically relevant nonmajor bleeding were 1.0% and 0.2%, respectively.

Semuloparin was compared with enoxaparin (30 mg bid starting 12 to 24 h after surgery) in 1,150 patients undergoing elective knee arthroplasty in the SAVE-KNEE trial.104 In the 855 patients with evaluable venograms, the primary efficacy end point, a composite of VTE or all-cause mortality, occurred in 24.5% of those randomized to semuloparin and in 28.1% of those given enoxaparin (OR, 0.83; 95% CI, 0.60-1.14). The rates of major bleeding with semuloparin and enoxaparin were 0.5% and 0.7%, respectively, whereas the rates of clinically relevant nonmajor bleeding were 2.1% and 1.1%, respectively.

A meta-analysis of the results of the SAVE-HIP1 and 2 and the SAVE-KNEE trials, which included 4,479 patients undergoing major orthopedic surgery, demonstrated that compared with a 7- to 10-day course of enoxaparin (at a dose of 40 mg once daily for hip fracture or 30 mg bid for knee arthroplasty), semuloparin reduced any VTE or all-cause mortality by almost one-third (OR, 0.70; 95% CI, 0.58-0.85; P = .0003) with similar rates of major or clinically relevant nonmajor bleeding (1.7% and 1.8%, respectively; OR, 0.95; 95% CI, 0.60-1.50).105 In the SAVE-HIP3 trial, 509 patients undergoing surgery for hip fracture all received semuloparin for 7 to 10 days, and 469 patients were then randomized in a 2:1 fashion to either continued semuloparin or to placebo for an additional 19 to 23 days.106 In the 332 patients with evaluable venograms, the primary efficacy end point, a composite of VTE or all-cause mortality, occurred in 3.9% of those randomized to extended semuloparin and in 18.6% of those given placebo (OR, 0.18; 95% CI, 0.07-0.45; P < .001). The rates of major bleeding and clinically relevant nonmajor bleeding with semuloparin were both 0.3%; there were no bleeding events with placebo.

In the SAVE-ABDO trial, semuloparin (20 mg once daily started 8 h after surgery) was compared with enoxaparin (40 mg once daily started 12 to 24 h after surgery) in 4,413 patients undergoing major abdominal surgery who were > 60 years of age or, if younger, had risk factors for VTE.107 Both treatments were administered for 7 to 10 days. Originally conceived as a superiority trial, there was revision to a noninferiority design after an interim analysis. In the 3,030 patients with evaluable venograms, the primary efficacy end point, a composite of VTE or all-cause mortality, occurred in 6.3% of those randomized to semuloparin and in 5.5% of those given enoxaparin (OR, 1.16; 95% CI, 0.84-1.59), a difference that failed to meet the prespecified noninferiority margin of 1.25. The rates of major VTE (proximal DVT or PE) or all-cause mortality were 2.2% and 2.3% with semuloparin and enoxaparin, respectively. Major bleeding occurred in 2.9% of patients given semuloparin and in 4.5% of those given enoxaparin, whereas the rates of clinically relevant nonmajor bleeding were 1.2% in both groups.

The SAVE-ONCO trial compared semuloparin (20 mg once daily) with placebo in > 3,000 patients with cancer who were receiving chemotherapy.108 Although the trial has been completed, the results have not been reported.

Overall, the results with semuloparin have been mixed. The need for a new injectable anticoagulant in this patient population is limited, given the availability of new oral anticoagulants. The disappointing results of the SAVE-ABDO trial suggest that the 20 mg once daily dose of semuloparin is inappropriate for all thromboprophylactic indications.

3.2.2.2 Direct Factor Xa Inhibitors

—Direct factor Xa inhibitors include parenteral agents, such as DX9065a and otamixaban, as well as several orally active drugs. All of the direct factor Xa inhibitors are small molecules that reversibly block the active site of factor Xa (Table 7). The large number of oral factor Xa inhibitors highlights the continued focus on development of oral anticoagulants that can replace vitamin K antagonists, such as warfarin.

Table Graphic Jump Location
Table 7 —[Section 3.2.2.2] Direct Factor Xa Inhibitors

DX-9065a: A synthetic nonpeptidic direct factor Xa inhibitor, DX9065a is administered parentally, has a dose-dependent half-life that ranges from 40 min to 5 h, and is cleared by the kidneys.109-111 DX9065a was evaluated in patients with non-ST-elevation ACS and in patients undergoing PCI. In the ACS trial, 402 patients were randomized to weight-adjusted heparin or to low- or high-dose DX-9065a.112 The primary efficacy end point, a composite of death, MI, urgent revascularization, or ischemia, occurred in 33.6%, 34.3%, and 31.3% of patients, respectively. Major bleeding occurred in 3.3% of those randomized to heparin and in < 1% of those who received DX-9065a. In the PCI trial, 175 patients were randomized to open-label DX-9065a or to heparin in one of four sequential phases.113 Although thrombotic events were rare in all phases of the study, enrollment in the phase evaluating the lowest dose of DX-9065 was stopped because of catheter thrombosis. Major bleeding events were uncommon, and there was no apparent dose response. Although promising, DX9065a has not undergone further clinical evaluation.

Otamixaban: A parenteral direct factor Xa inhibitor, otamixaban has a rapid onset of action, produces a predictable anticoagulant effect, has a short half-life, and < 25% of the drug is cleared by the kidneys.114,115 These features render otamixaban as a potential candidate to replace heparin in patients with ACS and those undergoing PCI. This possibility was evaluated in two phase 2 dose-finding trials.

The Study of Otamixaban vs Unfractionated Heparin (UFH) and Eptifibatide in Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (SEPIA-PCI) trial compared five different doses of otamixaban with unfractionated heparin in 947 patients undergoing nonurgent PCI.116 The primary outcomes were change in blood levels of prothrombin fragment 1.2 (F1.2) and anti-factor Xa activity. The highest dose of otamixaban produced greater suppression of F1.2 than unfractionated heparin, and increasing doses of otamixaban were associated with increasing anti-Xa levels. Otamixaban also had a dose-dependent effect on rates of any bleeding, which were significantly higher with the two highest otamixaban doses than with unfractionated heparin. Rates of ischemic events were similar across treatment groups.

The Study of Otamixaban vs Unfractionated Heparin and Eptifibatide in Non-ST Elevation Acute Coronary Syndrome (SEPIA-ACS)-1-TIMI 42 trial compared five different doses of otamixaban with the combination of heparin plus eptifibatide for the prevention of major cardiovascular events in 3,241 patients with non-ST-elevation ACS.117 All patients received aspirin and clopidogrel and 62.7% underwent PCI. Although the rates of the primary efficacy outcome, a composite of death, MI, urgent revascularization, or bailout glycoprotein IIb/IIIa use at 7 days, were not significantly different across the five doses of otamixaban or compared with heparin plus eptifibatide, rates were numerically lowest with the two intermediate doses of otamixaban. The lowest-dose otamixaban arm was stopped early because of excess thrombotic complications, and the rates of thrombotic complications were numerically higher with all doses of otamixaban than with heparin plus eptifibatide. Otamixaban was associated with a significant dose-dependent increase in the primary safety outcome, non-coronary artery bypass graft surgery-related TIMI major or minor bleeding, but bleeding rates with intermediate doses of otamixaban were similar to those with heparin plus eptifibatide. On the basis of these results, a phase 3 trial of the same design has been initiated; this trial will evaluate two different doses of otamixaban.118

Rivaroxaban: A direct factor Xa inhibitor, rivaroxaban is an active compound with about 80% oral bioavailability. Plasma levels of rivaroxaban peak 2 to 3 h after administration, and the terminal half-life is 7 to 11 h.119,120 Rivaroxaban is eliminated by the kidneys and in the feces. One-third of the administered drug is cleared as unchanged active drug by the kidneys, one-third is metabolized by the liver via CYP3A4-dependent and CYP3A4-independent pathways and then excreted in feces, and one-third is metabolized to inactive metabolites, which are then excreted by the kidneys. The pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profile of rivaroxaban is predictable and dose-dependent and is not influenced by age, gender, or body weight. Potent inhibitors of both CYP3A4 and P-glycoprotein, such as ketoconazole or ritonavir, are contraindicated because they increase plasma drug concentrations.

As outlined in Ageno et al,121 rivaroxaban has been investigated for the prevention and treatment of VTE, for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation, and for prevention of recurrent ischemia in patients with ACS. The drug is licensed in the United States, Canada, and Europe for VTE prevention after hip or knee arthroplasty and is under consideration for approval for VTE treatment and for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation.

Apixaban: An oral direct factor Xa inhibitor, apixaban is an active drug with an oral bioavailability of > 45%. Like rivaroxaban, apixaban inhibits both free and clot-associated factor Xa activity.122 In healthy men, levels of apixaban in plasma peak about 3 h after oral administration, and the drug is cleared with a terminal plasma half-life of 8 to 14 h.123 Apixaban is eliminated via multiple pathways, including oxidative metabolism and renal and intestinal routes. Potent inhibitors of CYP3A4, such as ketoconazole or ritonavir, are contraindicated because they increase plasma drug concentrations.

Prevention of VTE: Apixaban has been evaluated for VTE prevention in three phase 3 randomized controlled trials: two in patients undergoing knee arthroplasty (n = 6,252) and one in patients undergoing hip arthroplasty (n = 5,407). All three trials used the same apixaban dose regimen of 2.5 mg bid starting 12 to 24 h after surgery, which was administered for 10 to 14 days in patients undergoing knee arthroplasty and for 35 days in those undergoing hip arthroplasty. In the ADVANCE-1 trial, apixaban was similarly effective to enoxaparin 30 mg bid (starting 12-24 h after surgery) for the prevention of total VTE or all-cause mortality (9.0% and 8.8%, respectively; RR, 1.02; 95% CI, 0.78-1.32) in patients undergoing knee arthroplasty, although the prespecified statistical criteria for noninferiority were not met.124 In the ADVANCE-2 trial, apixaban was superior to enoxaparin 40 mg once daily (starting 12 h preoperatively) for the prevention of total VTE or all-cause mortality (1.51% and 24.4%, respectively; RR, 0.62; 95% CI, 0.51-0.78; P < .0001) in patients undergoing knee arthroplasty.125 In the ADVANCE-3 trial, patients undergoing hip arthroplasty were randomized to apixaban or enoxaparin (40 mg once daily starting 12 h preoperatively) for 35 days.126 Once again, apixaban was superior to enoxaparin (1.4% and 3.9%, respectively; RR, 0.36; 95% CI, 0.22-0.54; P < .001). Rates of major or clinically relevant nonmajor bleeding were numerically lower with apixaban than with enoxaparin in all three trials, but the differences only reached statistical significant in the ADVANCE-1 trial. Based on the results of the ADVANCE-2 and ADVANCE-3 trials, apixaban was approved by the European Commission for prevention of VTE in patients undergoing elective hip or knee replacement surgery.

Apixaban also was evaluated for thromboprophylaxis in medical patients. In the phase 3, multicenter, double-blind, randomized ADOPT trial, a 30-day regimen of apixaban (2.5 mg bid) was compared with enoxaparin (40 mg once daily, given for 6 to 14 days) in acutely ill medical patients.127 At 30 days, the primary efficacy outcome (a composite of symptomatic VTE, asymptomatic proximal DVT detected by routine ultrasonography or VTE-related mortality) occurred in 2.71% of patients given apixaban and in 3.06% of those treated with enoxaparin (RR, 0.87; 95% CI, 0.62-1.23). By day 30, rates of major bleeding in the apixaban and enoxaparin groups were 0.47% and 0.19%, respectively (RR, 2.58; 95% CI, 1.02-7.24; P = .04). Therefore, extended thromboprophylaxis with apixaban was not superior to a shorter course with enoxaparin, and there was more bleeding with apixaban.

Treatment of VTE: The phase 3 multicenter, double-blind, randomized AMPLIFY trial is comparing apixaban (10 mg bid for 1 week followed by 5 mg bid thereafter) with conventional anticoagulant therapy (heparin or LMWH followed by dose-adjusted warfarin) for treatment of patients with acute VTE.128 The phase 3 multicenter, double-blind, randomized AMPLIFY-EXT trial is comparing apixaban (at doses of either 2.5 or 5 mg bid) with placebo for prevention of recurrent VTE in patients who have completed a minimum of a 6-month course of anticoagulation therapy for a first episode of VTE.129

Stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation: The multicenter, double-blind, randomized phase 3 Apixaban for Reduction in Stroke and Other Thromboembolic Events in Atrial Fibrillation (ARISTOTLE) trial compared apixaban (5 mg bid) with warfarin (dose-adjusted to achieve an INR of 2-3) in 18,201 patients with atrial fibrillation with at least one additional risk factor for stroke.130 The rate of primary efficacy outcome, a composite of stroke (ischemic or hemorrhagic) and systemic embolism, was 1.27% per year in the apixaban group and 1.60% per year in the warfarin group (HR, 0.79; 95% CI, 0.66-0.95; P < .001 for noninferiority and P < .01 for superiority). Annual rates of major bleeding with apixaban and warfarin were 2.13% and 3.09%, respectively (HR, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.60-0.80; P < .001) and rates of h