Adherence to rivaroxaban, dabigatran, and apixaban for stroke prevention in incident, treatment-naïve nonvalvular atrial fibrillation

Joshua D. Brown, Anand R. Shewale, Jeffery C. Talbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants (NOACs) are widely used for prevention of stroke secondary to nonvalvular atrial fibrillation (NVAF). Increased use of NOACs is partially a result of simplified regimens compared with warfarin, which has been associated with poor adherence and persistence to therapy. Few studies have assessed adherence to NOACs, especially using contemporary data now that multiple NOACs are available. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate adherence to NOACs in a cohort of newly diagnosed NVAF patients who are commercially insured. METHODS: Incident, treatment-naïve NVAF patients were identified in 2013 from a large claims database. Patients were included who initiated rivaroxaban, dabigatran, or apixaban within 30 days after diagnosis. Subjects were required to have 12 months of pre-index information to assess demographic and clinical characteristics (comorbidities, CHA2DS2-VASc, and HAS-BLED scores). Adherence to the index medication and adherence to any oral anticoagulant was assessed using proportion of days covered (PDC) at 3, 6, and 9 months. The number of switches and gaps in therapy were also evaluated. Analyses were stratified by stroke risk scores, and a logistic regression model was used to control for factors that may predict high adherence (PDC ≥ 0.80). RESULTS: A total of 3,455 rivaroxaban, 1,264 dabigatran, and 504 apixaban users were included with no major clinical or demographic differences between groups. At 3, 6, and 9 months of follow-up, dabigatran had lower adherence (PDC = 0.77, 0.67, and 0.62) compared with rivaroxaban (PDC = 0.84, 0.75, and 0.70; P < 0.001) and apixaban (PDC = 0.82, 0.75, and 0.71; P < 0.001), as well as nearly twice the number of switches to either other anticoagulants or antiplatelet therapy. At 9 months, 55.0% of rivaroxaban initiators had PDC ≥ 0.80, which was comparable with 56.8% for apixaban and significantly greater than 46.7% for dabigatran (P < 0.001). Adherence was higher overall as stroke risk increased and showed dabigatran had consistently lower adherence compared with the other NOACs. Overall adherence to any oral anticoagulants, allowing for switches to another NOAC or warfarin, was not dependent on the index medication (9-month PDC = 0.74, 0.71, and 0.74 for rivaroxaban, dabigatran, and apixaban initiators). Adjusted analyses showed that increasing age and comorbid hypertension and diabetes were associated with higher adherence. Compared with rivaroxaban, dabigatran initiators had nearly 30% lower odds of being adherent to their index medication, and no differences were observed between apixaban and rivaroxaban. At 9 months, there were no differences between NOACs for overall adherence to oral anticoagulants. CONCLUSIONS: In this real-world analysis of adherence to NOACs, rivaroxaban and apixaban had favorable profiles compared with dabigatran, and rivaroxaban appeared to have higher overall adherence among the NOACs. Clinicians and managed care organizations should consider the implications of lower adherence on clinical outcomes as well as quality assessment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1319-1329
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Managed Care and Specialty Pharmacy
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacy
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Health Policy


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