In Western countries, venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a widespread and serious disorder, with hospital admission rates that appear to be increasing. Current anticoagulant therapies available for the prevention and treatment of VTE have several drawbacks that make them either difficult to manage effectively, due to a need for careful monitoring to control coagulation, or, in the case of parenterally administered agents, inconvenient for long-term use. To address some of these issues, new anticoagulants are in clinical development that can be orally administered and directly target specific factors in the coagulation cascade. This article reviews the rationale behind development of these novel agents and provides a critical appraisal of their clinical potential. In addition, the impact that the introduction of such agents into clinical practice would have is discussed from the patient perspective
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