Pradaxa has been approved for use in England and Wales and is the first new oral anticoagulant to be approved for preventing venous thromboembolism (blood clots in a vein) for more than 50 years.
The decision has been welcomed by the charity AntiCoagulation Europe, whose executive director Eve Knight revealed that many at-risk patients do not receive adequate protection against blood clots because of poor compliance with existing treatments, in particular ones that have to be injected.
"An oral anticoagulant that does not require anticoagulation monitoring is a major advance and will enable patients to continue with important preventative therapy after surgery and hospital discharge for the full guideline-recommended duration, without the need for injections," she said.
Dr Sheuli Porkess, head of medical and scientific affairs at the pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim, confirmed that the drug "has the potential to improve patient care post hip and knee replacement surgery".
As well as following operations such as knee and hip replacement surgery, blood clots are particularly common in people who have sat still on long-haul flights.