Vitamin K antagonists were the only class of oral anticoagulants available to clinicians for decades. However, with the US Food and Drug Administration approval of new oral anticoagulants, such as dabigatran, rivaroxaban, and apixaban, clinicians now have a broader choice. Given the recent approval and availability of these medications, several questions arise while deciding which of them would be best suited for a particular patient. This article provides a concise review for clinicians entailing the main studies that evaluated the efficacy and safety of these drugs, their pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties, and a practical approach to their clinical use. For this review, we conducted searches of PubMed and MEDLINE for articles published between January 1, 2000, and January 30, 2013, using the following search terms: oral anticoagulants, dabigatran, apixaban, rivaroxaban, novel anticoagulants, bleeding complications, management of bleeding complications, pharmacodynamics, and pharmacokinetics. Studies published in English were selected for inclusion in this review, as were additional articles identified from bibliographies.
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