A pharmacologic overview of current and emerging anticoagulants

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For over 50 years, anticoagulant options for the treatment and prevention of thrombosis have been limited mainly to traditional agents such as unfractionated heparin and oral vitamin K antagonists such as warfarin. These traditional agents are fraught with limitations that complicate their clinical use. A variety of novel anticoagulants with improved pharmacologic and clinical profiles have recently been introduced or are in development, offering benefits over traditional therapies. Specifically, progress has been made in the development of low-molecular-weight heparins, factor Xa inhibitors, and direct thrombin inhibitors. Because of their convenience and ease of use, some of these novel compounds are competing with the traditional anticoagulants and are needed additions to the antithrombotic arsenal.


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