Clinical and budget impacts of changes in oral anticoagulation prescribing for atrial fibrillation

Andi Orlowski, Chris P. Gale, Rachel Ashton, Bruno Petrungaro, Ruth Slater, Ramesh Nadarajah, J. Campbell Cowan, Jackie Buck, Wayne Smith, Jianhua Wu

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14 Citations (Scopus)
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OBJECTIVE: To assess temporal clinical and budget impacts of changes in atrial fibrillation (AF)-related prescribing in England.

METHODS: Data on AF prevalence, AF-related stroke incidence and prescribing for all National Health Service general practices, hospitals and registered patients with hospitalised AF-related stroke in England were obtained from national databases. Stroke care costs were based on published data. We compared changes in oral anticoagulation prescribing (warfarin or direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs)), incidence of hospitalised AF-related stroke, and associated overall and per-patient costs in the periods January 2011-June 2014 and July 2014-December 2017.

RESULTS: Between 2011-2014 and 2014-2017, recipients of oral anticoagulation for AF increased by 86.5% from 1 381 170 to 2 575 669. The number of patients prescribed warfarin grew by 16.1% from 1 313 544 to 1 525 674 and those taking DOACs by 1452.7% from 67 626 to 1 049 995. Prescribed items increased by 5.9% for warfarin (95% CI 2.9% to 8.9%) but by 2004.8% for DOACs (95% CI 1848.8% to 2160.7%). Oral anticoagulation prescription cost rose overall by 781.2%, from £87 313 310 to £769 444 028, (£733,466,204 with warfarin monitoring) and per patient by 50.7%, from £293 to £442, giving an incremental cost of £149. Nevertheless, as AF-related stroke incidence fell by 11.3% (95% CI -11.5% to -11.1%) from 86 467 in 2011-2014 to 76 730 in 2014-2017 with adjustment for AF prevalence, the overall per-patient cost reduced from £1129 to £840, giving an incremental per-patient saving of £289.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite nearly one million additional DOAC prescriptions and substantial associated spending in the latter part of this study, the decline in AF-related stroke led to incremental savings at the national level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-53
Number of pages7
Issue number1
Early online date28 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 11 Dec 2020


  • atrial fibrillation
  • oral anticoagulants

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