Stroke prevention drug Eliquis has been approved for use within the Scottish NHS, developers Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer have announced.
The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has approved Eliquis, also known as apixaban, which is designed for the prevention of stroke and systemic embolism in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation with one or more risk factors.
The SMC has acknowledged that apixaban is superior to warfarin at preventing a stroke or systemic embolism, and is also associated with significantly fewer major bleeds.
It is estimated that those with artrial fibrillation are five times more likely to suffer from a stroke, with 7% of all strokes in Scotland believed to be caused by the condition.
Risk of stroke is reduced by anticoagulation, or thinning of the blood.
Warfarin is the traditional anticoagulation treatment for artrial fibrillation, but apixaban has been shown been shown to be more effective, and has been associated with less major bleeding, resulting in more lives saved.
The SMC has also noted that apixaban requires no therapeutic monitoring.
Consultant Cardiologist in the Royal Infirmary, Glasgow and representative of the Atrial Fibrillation Association Dr Derek Connelly said that many Scottish patients are being treated with the anticoagulant warfarin which, needs on-going INR monitoring and can have many undesirable reactions with other drugs and diet.
"The availability of a new treatment option that does not require INR monitoring may help decrease the impact atrial fibrillation has on the quality of life of patients, their families and carers in the prevention of stroke," said Connelly.
Artrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm disorder, with 60,000 people in Scotland alone affected by the condition.
Both the SMC and National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) have already accepted apixaban for the prevention of venous thromboembolic events (VTE) in adult patients who have undergone elective hip or knee replacement surgery.
Apixaban was licensed for use in the European Union in November 2012 for the prevention of stroke and systemic embolism in adult patients with non-valvular AF and one or more risk factors.