Apixaban bests warfarin in head-to-head study

Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb have reason to celebrate today. A late stage study comparing their next-generation blood thinner Eliquis (apixaban) to warfarin demonstrated that the experimental drug is more effective at preventing stroke in high-risk patients. Additionally, Eliquis is safer, causing fewer major bleeding incidents than warfarin.

The study was designed to show that Eliquis was comparable to warfarin. But the addition of superiority data could give the drug a leg up on two other new blood thinners--Boehringer Ingelheim's Pradaxa and the unapproved Xarelto from Bayer and Johnson & Johnson. "At first blush, it's a home run for apixaban. It looks better than the other two drugs," Barclays Capital analyst Tony Butler told Reuters. Added OrbiMed Advisors partner Trevor Polischuk, "[T]his sets this drug up to be market leader, in what has been a massive race to get the best drug to market." All three of the new medicines could stand to earn up to $2 billion a year, according to analysts. But Polischuk says Eliquis' stunning data could push the drug into the $5 billion range.

Full data from the study will be presented in Europe later this summer. Pfizer and BMS plan to submit applications for U.S. and EU approval in the second half of this year.

- here's the release
- read more from Reuters