Clinical trials with direct oral anticoagulants for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation: how representative are they for real life patients?

S. Desmaele, S. Steurbaut, P. Cornu, R. Brouns, A. G. Dupont

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


To identify the proportion of real-life patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) eligible for direct oral anticoagulant (DOAC) therapy, based on the inclusion and exclusion criteria used in the clinical studies and based on the officially approved indications as mentioned in the Summary of Product Characteristics (SmPC). Data for this retrospective cross-sectional study was extracted from the UZ Brussel Stroke Registry, containing anonymized data of 2205 patients with a suspected stroke. Characteristics of patients with documented AF were compared with the patient characteristics in clinical trials and the approved indications in the SmPC. Data of 468 patients with AF was analyzed. Based on the selection criteria of the clinical trials, significantly less patients were eligible for treatment with rivaroxaban compared to dabigatran etexilate (39.3 versus 47.6 %; p = 0.010), but not compared to apixaban (45.5 %; p = 0.055). Based on the indications and contraindications in the SmPC, significantly fewer patients were eligible for apixaban compared to dabigatran etexilate and rivaroxaban (62.0 % for apixaban, 72.9 % for dabigatran etexilate, and 75.6 % for rivaroxaban; p < 0.001 and p < 0.001, respectively). Significantly, more patients were eligible for DOAC therapy based on the indications and contraindications in the SmPC compared to the inclusion and exclusion criteria of the clinical trials (72.9 versus 47.6 %; p < 0.001 for dabigatran; 75.6 versus 39.3 %; p < 0.001 for rivaroxaban and 62.0 versus 45.5 %; p < 0.001 for apixaban). When taking into account the selection criteria from the pivotal clinical trials with DOACs for stroke prevention in AF, less than half of real-life patients are eligible for therapy with one of the DOACs. However, the indications mentioned in the SmPCs of these drugs are less strict.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1125-1134
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2016


  • Direct oral anticoagulants
  • Inclusion criteria
  • Summary of product characteristics
  • Indications

Cite this