Did You Know? Direct Oral Anticoagulants (DOAC’s)

Jul 8, 2022 | Clinical Insight

What are DOAC’s and what are they used for?

  • Anticoagulants are commonly used to treat atrial fibrillation and a variety of thrombotic conditions. Direct oral anticoagulants (DOAC’s) represent a major advancement in oral anticoagulation. Prior to their introduction, Warfarin (Coumadin) was the anticoagulant of choice. Warfarin has many disadvantages. It is considered a narrow therapeutic index medication, meaning, just a small difference in dose or blood concentration can lead to serious adverse drug reactions and/or therapeutic failures that can be life-threatening. It requires frequent lab monitoring and has several drug interactions, making it very difficult to stay within the desired therapeutic range.
  • There are currently 4 DOAC’s available. Dosing and indications are listed in the table below.
    • In atrial fibrillation: Meta-analysis of RCT’s have demonstrated that among adults ≥75 years of age, DOAC’s have a lower frequency of stroke/systemic embolism and a noninferior risk of major bleeding versus warfarin.1
    • In VTE: results from VTE RCT’s have shown that when compared to warfarin, DOACs provide at least equal efficacy, possibly improved, as well as decreased rates of major bleeding in those ≥75 years of age.2
IndicationApixaban (Eliquis)Dabigatran (Pradaxa)Edoxaban (Savaysa)Rivaroxaban
Nonvalvular Atrial
Fibrillation (AF)
5 mg bid150 mg bid60 mg once daily20 mg once daily
with largest meal
(food increases
VTE Treatment10 mg bid for
7 days, then 5 mg bid; may reduce to 2.5 mg bid for extended treatment ≥6 months
Parenteral anticoagulation for 5-10 days; followed by 150 mg bidParental anticoagulation for 5-10 days; then 60 mg once daily15 mg bid for 21 days, then 20 mg daily with largest meal; may reduce to 10 mg daily for extended treatment ≥6 months
VTE Prophylaxis2.5 mg bidorthopedics only110 mg for the 1st day, then 220 mg once daily-orthopedics onlyNot FDA approved10 mg once daily, with or without food
Prevention of MACE in CHD/PADNot FDA approvedNot FDA approvedNot FDA approved2.5 mg bid
AF: if ≥2 of the following, reduce to 2.5 mg bid: age≥80, TBW≤60 kg, SCr≥1.5 mg/dLAF: CrCl 15-30 ml/min: reduce to 75 mg BID
VTE treatment/prophylaxis: avoid if CrCl <30 ml/min
AF: not recommended if CrCl > 95 ml/min
AF and VTE treatment: CrCl: 15-50 ml/min: reduce to 30 mg daily CrCl <15 ml/min: avoid use
AF: CrCl 15-50 ml/min: reduce to 15 mg once daily with largest meal Avoid if CrCl <15 ml/min.
VTE treatment/prophylaxis: Avoid if CrCl <30 ml/min
PAD/CHD-stable: Avoid use if CrCl <15 ml/min
CaveatsAntidote: Andexanet alfaAntidote: idarucizumab
Must be stored in original container. Beers list medication: Increased risk of GI bleeding compared with warfarin and reported rates with other DOACs when used for long-term treatment of VTE or atrial fibrillation in adults ≥75 years.3
Antidote: Andexanet alfaAntidote:
Andexanet alfa Beers list medication: Increased risk of GI bleeding compared with arfarin and reported rates with other DOACs when used for long-term treatment of VTE or atrial fibrillation in adults ≥75 years.
*Some of these need further dose adjustments when used with P-gp inhibitors, CYP3A inhibitors, with reduced renal function. Refer to PI for specific dosing recommendations.

NOTE: In clinical trials, the Cockcroft-Gault equation utilizing ACTUAL body weight was used to estimate CrCl in all phase 3 clinical trials of DOACs.


  1. Kim J. Cardiol2018;72:105.
  2. Van ES N, et al. Blood. 2014;124(12):1968-78.
  3. 2019 American Geriatrics Society Beers Criteria Update Expert Panel. American Geriatrics Society 2019 updated AGS Beers Criteria for potentially inappropriate medication use in older adults. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2019;67(4):674-694. doi: 10.1111/jgs.15767
  4. Clinical Pharmacology/monographs.

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Brandi VanValkenburg

Brandi provides personalized care as a pharmacy consultant with HealthDirect's northeastern region.  She has been serving our clients for over 10 years. 

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