The new or direct oral anticoagulants [new oral anticoagulants (NOAC) or direct oral anticoagulants (DOAC)] were launched in the Italian market in 2013. Although these compounds share common pharmacological indications with vitamin K antagonists (warfarin or acenocumarol), they have different mechanisms of action, do not require a constant anticoagulant monitoring but are more efficacious and safer than vitamin K antagonists. The use of these molecules (Dabigatran, Apixaban, Rivaroxaban, Betrixaban, Edoxaban) is constantly rising in daily practice. However, while available data suggest that NOAC/DOAC use is safe, dosage should be adjusted based on renal or liver function. It should be acknowledged that commonly available blood tests [Prothrombin Time (PT) and partial thromboplastin time (PTT)] are not indicated to monitor the anticoagulant activity of these compounds. With the exception of dabigatran, we currently lack of an antidote to reverse the anticoagulant effect of NOAC/DOAC. We herein review available evidence on NOAC/DOAC pharmacokinetic, risk factors for bleeding, interventions to reverse the anticoagulant activity in case of hemorrhages or need of urgent surgery and/or NOAC/DOAC overdose or side effects.
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