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Dabigatran

Generic Name: dabigatran (da BIG a tran)
Brand Name: Pradaxa

Medically reviewed on January 19, 2017

What is dabigatran?

Dabigatran is an anticoagulant (thrombin inhibitor) that helps prevent the formation of blood clots.

Dabigatran is used to prevent blood clots and to reduce the risk of stroke in people with a certain type of heart rhythm disorder.

Dabigatran is also used to treat or prevent blood clots in the veins of your legs (deep vein thrombosis, or DVT), or the veins in your lungs (pulmonary embolism, or PE).

Dabigatran may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

You should not take dabigatran if you have an artificial heart valve, or if you have any active bleeding from a surgery, injury, or other cause.

Because dabigatran keeps your blood from coagulating (clotting) to prevent unwanted blood clots, dabigatran can also make it easier for you to bleed, even from a minor injury such as a fall or a bump on the head. Avoid activities that may increase your risk of bleeding or injury. Contact your doctor or seek emergency medical attention if you have bleeding that will not stop.

Dabigatran can cause a very serious blood clot around your spinal cord if you undergo a spinal tap or receive spinal anesthesia (epidural), especially if you have a genetic spinal defect, if you have a spinal catheter in place, if you have a history of spinal surgery or repeated spinal taps, or if you are also using other drugs that can affect blood clotting. This type of blood clot can lead to long-term or permanent paralysis.

Get emergency medical help if you have symptoms of a spinal cord blood clot such as back pain, numbness or muscle weakness in your lower body, or loss of bladder or bowel control.

Do not stop taking dabigatran without your doctor's advice. Stopping the medication can increase your risk of stroke.

Before taking this medicine

You should not take dabigatran if you are allergic to it, or if you have:

  • an artificial heart valve; or

  • any active bleeding from a surgery, injury, or other cause.

Dabigatran may cause you to bleed more easily, especially if:

Dabigatran can cause a very serious blood clot around your spinal cord if you undergo a spinal tap or receive spinal anesthesia (epidural). This type of blood clot could cause long-term paralysis, and may be more likely to occur if:

  • you have a genetic spinal defect;

  • you have a spinal catheter in place;

  • you have a history of spinal surgery or repeated spinal taps;

  • you have recently had a spinal tap or epidural anesthesia;

  • you are taking an NSAID--Advil, Aleve, Motrin, and others; or

  • you are using other medicines to treat or prevent blood clots.

To make sure dabigatran is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • kidney disease;

  • a history of stomach ulcer or bleeding; or

  • if you are older than 75.

It is not known whether this medicine will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

It is not known whether dabigatran passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How should I take dabigatran?

Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not take dabigatran in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Take this medicine with a full glass of water. You may take dabigatran with or without food.

Do not crush, chew, break, or open a dabigatran capsule. Swallow the pill whole.

Because dabigatran keeps your blood from coagulating (clotting) to prevent unwanted blood clots, this medicine can also make it easier for you to bleed, even from a minor injury such as a fall or a bump on the head. Contact your doctor or seek emergency medical attention if you fall or hit your head, or have any bleeding that will not stop.

If you need surgery, dental work, or any type of medical test or treatment, tell the doctor or dentist ahead of time if you have taken dabigatran within the past 12 hours. You may need to stop taking dabigatran for a short time before you have surgery or other medical procedures.

Do not stop taking dabigatran without your doctor's advice. Stopping the medication can increase your risk of stroke. Your doctor may recommend another medication to prevent blood clots if you need to stop taking dabigatran.

Your kidney function may need to be checked with blood tests before and during treatment with dabigatran.

Keep the capsules in their original container or blister pack. Do not put dabigatran capsules into a daily pill box or pill organizer.

If you have received more than a 30-day supply of this medication, do not open more than one bottle at a time. Open a new bottle only after all the capsules in the old bottle are gone.

Store at room temperature, away from moisture and heat. Keep each capsule in the bottle or blister pack until you are ready to take the medicine. Keep the bottle tightly closed when not in use.

Throw away any unused capsules if it has been longer than 4 months since you first opened the bottle. Capsules stored in a blister pack should be thrown away after the expiration date on the label has passed.

What happens if I miss a dose?

If you are less than 6 hours late in taking your medicine, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

Try not to miss any doses of dabigatran to best prevent a stroke.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while taking dabigatran?

Avoid activities that may increase your risk of bleeding or injury. Use extra care to prevent bleeding while shaving or brushing your teeth.

Avoid drinking alcohol. It may increase your risk of bleeding in your stomach or intestines.

Dabigatran side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; pain or tight feeling in your chest, wheezing, difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Also seek emergency medical attention if you have symptoms of a spinal blood clot: back pain, numbness or muscle weakness in your lower body, or loss of bladder or bowel control.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • any bleeding that will not stop;

  • headache, weakness, dizziness, feeling like you might pass out;

  • easy bruising, unusual bleeding (nose, mouth, vagina, or rectum), purple or red pinpoint spots under your skin;

  • blood in your urine or stools, black or tarry stools;

  • coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds;

  • pink or brown urine;

  • joint pain or swelling; or

  • heavy menstrual bleeding.

Common side effects may include:

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

Dabigatran dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Deep Vein Thrombosis -- Prophylaxis:

Recommended doses: 150 mg orally twice a day

Comments: Generally, the extent of anticoagulation does not need to be assessed with this drug; however, when necessary, use aPTT or ECT, and not INR to assess anticoagulant activity.

Uses: Reduction of risk of stroke and systemic embolism in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation; treatment of deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism in patients who have been treated with a parenteral anticoagulant for 5 to 10 days; reduction in the risk of recurrence of deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism in patients who have been previously treated.

Usual Adult Dose for Prevention of Thromboembolism in Atrial Fibrillation:

Recommended doses: 150 mg orally twice a day

Comments: Generally, the extent of anticoagulation does not need to be assessed with this drug; however, when necessary, use aPTT or ECT, and not INR to assess anticoagulant activity.

Uses: Reduction of risk of stroke and systemic embolism in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation; treatment of deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism in patients who have been treated with a parenteral anticoagulant for 5 to 10 days; reduction in the risk of recurrence of deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism in patients who have been previously treated.

Usual Adult Dose for Deep Vein Thrombosis/Pulmonary Embolism Prophylaxis Following Hip Replacement Surgery:

110 mg orally 1 to 4 hours after surgery and after hemostasis has been achieved, then 220 mg orally once a day for 28 to 35 days

Comments: If this drug is not started on the day of surgery, initiate treatment with 220 mg orally once a day after hemostasis has been achieved.

What other drugs will affect dabigatran?

Before you take dabigatran, tell your doctor if you also take rifampin (Rifater, Rifamate, Rimactane, Rifadin).

Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using, especially other medicines used to treat or prevent blood clots, such as:

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with dabigatran, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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