The effects of direct oral anticoagulants in nonvalvular atrial fibrillation should be assessed in actual conditions of use.
France has near-universal healthcare coverage with a unified healthcare information system, allowing large population-based analyses.
NAXOS ( Evaluation of Apixaban in Stroke and Systemic Embolism Prevention in Patients With Nonvalvular Atrial Fibrillation ) aimed to compare the safety, effectiveness, and mortality of Apixaban ( Eliquis ) with vitamin K antagonists ( VKAs ), Rivaroxaban ( Xarelto ), and Dabigatran ( Pradaxa ), in oral anticoagulant-naive patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation.
This was an observational study using French National Health System claims data and including all adults with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation who initiated oral anticoagulant between 2014 and 2016.
Outcomes of interest were major bleeding events leading to hospitalization ( safety ), stroke and systemic thromboembolic events ( effectiveness ), and all-cause mortality.
Overall, 321 501 patients were analyzed, of whom 35.0%, 27.2%, 31.1%, and 6.6% initiated VKAs, Apixaban, Rivaroxaban, and Dabigatran, respectively.
Apixaban was associated with a lower propensity score ( PS )–matched risk of major bleeding compared with VKAs ( hazard ratio [ HR ], 0.43 [ 95% CI, 0.40–0.46 ] ) and Rivaroxaban ( HR, 0.67 [ 95% CI, 0.63–0.72 ] ), but not Dabigatran ( HR, 0.93 [ 95% CI, 0.81–1.08 ] ).
Apixaban was associated with a lower risk of stroke and systemic thromboembolic event compared with VKAs ( HR, 0.60 [ 95% CI, 0.56–0.65 ] ), but not Rivaroxaban ( HR, 1.05 [ 95% CI, 0.97–1.15 ] ) or Dabigatran ( HR, 0.93 [ 95% CI, 0.78–1.11 ] ).
All-cause mortality was lower with apixaban than with VKAs, but not lower than with Rivaroxaban or Dabigatran.
In conclusion, Apixaban was associated with superior safety, effectiveness, and lower mortality than VKAs; with superior safety than Rivaroxaban and similar safety to Dabigatran; and with similar effectiveness when compared with Rivaroxaban or Dabigatran.
These observational data suggest potentially important differences in outcomes between direct oral anticoagulants, which should be explored in randomized trials. ( Xagena )
Van Ganse E et al, Stroke 2020; 51: 2066-2075