Medical Needs Overseas: Blood-thinning medication

This item appears on page 33 of the August 2011 issue.
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A subscriber mentioned the complications of taking the blood thinner Coumadin (aka warfarin), used by many of us traveling seniors with atrial fibrillation (May ’11, pg. 44). The patient’s blood has to be checked for INR (clotting) every month or more, and if the INR value is outside the range prescribed for the patient, his or her dosage is changed and the INR is retested after a few days or a week.

Even with my doctor’s prescription, getting these tests has been a significant hurdle during extended travel. Getting an INR test in Ushuaia on the southern tip of Argentina, for example, was an interesting little adventure.

Recently, after years of testing, the FDA approved a new blood thinner, Pradaxa®, for this condition. A Pradaxa® pill is taken twice a day, and no INR test is required with its use.

With my doctor’s approval and prescription, I switched from Coumadin to Pradaxa®. This medication has advantages over Coumadin, but it is more expensive. With Blue Cross and Medicare insurance, it costs me $70 for a three-month supply.

DICK DRESELLY
Brunswick, ME

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

A subscriber mentioned the complications of taking the blood thinner Coumadin (aka warfarin), used by many of us traveling seniors with atrial fibrillation (May ’11, pg. 44). The patient’s blood has to be checked for INR (clotting) every month or more, and if the INR value is outside the range prescribed for the patient, his or her dosage is changed and the INR is retested after a few days or a week.

Even with my doctor’s prescription, getting these tests has been a significant hurdle during extended travel. Getting an INR test in Ushuaia on the southern tip of Argentina, for example, was an interesting little adventure.

Recently, after years of testing, the FDA approved a new blood thinner, Pradaxa®, for this condition. A Pradaxa® pill is taken twice a day, and no INR test is required with its use.

With my doctor’s approval and prescription, I switched from Coumadin to Pradaxa®. This medication has advantages over Coumadin, but it is more expensive. With Blue Cross and Medicare insurance, it costs me $70 for a three-month supply.

DICK DRESELLY
Brunswick, ME