Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



British Medical Journal

Inclusive Pages

Article number 1585


Anticoagulants--adverse effects; Atrial Fibrillation--drug therapy; Benzimidazoles--adverse effects; Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage--chemically induced; Morpholines--adverse effects; Thiophenes--adverse effects; Warfarin--adverse effects; Beta-Alanine--analogs & derivatives


Objectives To determine the real world safety of dabigatran or rivaroxaban compared with warfarin in terms of gastrointestinal bleeding.

Design Retrospective cohort study.

Setting Large administrative database of commercially insured people in United States from 1 October 2010 through 31 March 2012.

Participants Enrollees with a prescription of warfarin, dabigatran, or rivaroxaban between 1 October 2010 and 31 March 2012, who were aged 18 years or older, had continuous enrollment and no oral anticoagulant use during the six months before the entry date, with known age and sex, and with no gastrointestinal bleeding for at least six months before the cohort entry date. The final study sample of 46 163 patients included 4907 using dabigatran, 1649 using rivaroxaban, and 39 607 using warfarin.

Main outcome measure Time to gastrointestinal bleeding. Hazard ratios were derived from Cox proportional hazard models with propensity score weighting and robust estimates of errors.

Results Dabigatran users tended to be older (dabigatran v rivaroxaban v warfarin: 62.0 v 57.6 v 57.4 years) and more likely to be male (69% v 49% v 53%). The rate of gastrointestinal bleeding was highest among dabigatran users and lowest among rivaroxaban users (dabigatran v rivaroxaban v warfarin: 9.01 v 3.41 v 7.02 cases per 100 person years). After adjustment for potentially confounding covariates, there was no evidence of a statistically significant difference in the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding between dabigatran and warfarin users (adjusted hazard ratio 1.21, 95% confidence interval 0.96 to 1.53) or between rivaroxaban and warfarin users (0.98, 0.36 to 2.69).

Conclusions Although rates of gastrointestinal bleeding seem to be similar in this commercially insured sample of adults in the United States, we cannot rule out as much as a 50% increase in the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding with dabigatran compared with warfarin or a more than twofold higher risk of bleeding with rivaroxaban compared with warfarin.


Reproduced with permission of the British Medical Journal.

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