JAMA. 2022 Mar 15;327(11):1051-1060. doi: 10.1001/jama.2022.1920.
IMPORTANCE: Guidelines for managing venous thromboembolism (VTE) recommend at least 90 days of therapy with oral anticoagulants. Limited evidence exists about the optimal drug for continuing therapy beyond 90 days.
OBJECTIVE: To compare having prescriptions dispensed for apixaban, rivaroxaban, or warfarin after an initial 90 days of anticoagulation therapy for the outcomes of hospitalization for recurrent VTE, major bleeding, and death.
DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: This exploratory retrospective cohort study used data from fee-for-service Medicare (2009-2017) and from 2 commercial health insurance (2004-2018) databases and included 64 642 adults who initiated oral anticoagulation following hospitalization discharge for VTE and continued treatment beyond 90 days.
EXPOSURES: Apixaban, rivaroxaban, or warfarin prescribed after an initial 90-day treatment for VTE.
MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Primary outcomes included hospitalization for recurrent VTE and hospitalization for major bleeding. Analyses were adjusted using propensity score weighting. Patients were followed up from the end of the initial 90-day treatment episode until treatment cessation, outcome, death, disenrollment, or end of available data. Weighted Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CIs.
RESULTS: The study included 9167 patients prescribed apixaban (mean [SD] age, 71  years; 5491 [59.9%] women), 12 468 patients prescribed rivaroxaban (mean [SD] age, 69  years; 7067 [56.7%] women), and 43 007 patients prescribed warfarin (mean [SD] age, 70  years; 25 404 [59.1%] women). The median (IQR) follow-up was 109 (59-228) days for recurrent VTE and 108 (58-226) days for major bleeding outcome. After propensity score weighting, the incidence rate of hospitalization for recurrent VTE was significantly lower for apixaban compared with warfarin (9.8 vs 13.5 per 1000 person-years; HR, 0.69 [95% CI, 0.49-0.99]), but the incidence rates were not significantly different between apixaban and rivaroxaban (9.8 vs 11.6 per 1000 person-years; HR, 0.80 [95% CI, 0.53-1.19]) or rivaroxaban and warfarin (HR, 0.87 [95% CI, 0.65-1.16]). Rates of hospitalization for major bleeding were 44.4 per 1000 person-years for apixaban, 50.0 per 1000 person-years for rivaroxaban, and 47.1 per 1000 person-years for warfarin, yielding HRs of 0.92 (95% CI, 0.78-1.09) for apixaban vs warfarin, 0.86 (95% CI, 0.71-1.04) for apixaban vs rivaroxaban, and 1.07 (95% CI, 0.93-1.24) for rivaroxaban vs warfarin.
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: In this exploratory analysis of patients prescribed extended-duration oral anticoagulation therapy after hospitalization for VTE, prescription dispenses for apixaban beyond 90 days, compared with warfarin beyond 90 days, were significantly associated with a modestly lower rate of hospitalization for recurrent VTE, but no significant difference in rate of hospitalization for major bleeding. There were no significant differences for comparisons of apixaban vs rivaroxaban or rivaroxaban vs warfarin.