Increased warfarin doses and decreased international normalized ratio response after nationwide generic switching

Hillel Halkin*, Jonathan Shapiro, Daniel Kurnik, Ronen Loebstein, Varda Shalev, Ehud Kokia

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Our objective was to examine possible changes in the effectiveness of warfarin after a nationwide generic substitution of formulations in 1998. Methods: In the computerized records of a health maintenance organization database, we identified 975 patients who took warfarin continuously over two 6-month periods, before (period 1) and after (period 2) the generic switch. In this sample we performed a retrospective, between-period paired comparison of warfarin doses dispensed and international normalized ratio (INR) levels maintained, as well as of the apparent warfarin sensitivity index (calculated as INR/Warfarin dose [in milligrams per day]). Results: Overall, for period 2, doses were 26.5% higher and INR 4.2% lower, with a 14.7% reduction in warfarin sensitivity index (P < .001). The findings were strongest in the 61 of 975 patients (6.3%) dispensed the lowest maintenance doses (<1.0 mg/d), with minimal change at greater than 3 mg/d. In 94 other patients (9.6%) in whom doses were unchanged, INR (median with 5th and 95th percentiles) dropped to subtherapeutic levels, from 2.2 (1.8, 3.0) to 1.7 (1.3, 1.8) (P < .001). There were no adverse events, expressed as no change in hospital admissions. Apparent warfarin sensitivity was reduced in period 2 by 15% to 20% (P < .001) across all period 1 INR levels. Conclusion: Because a general unidirectional change in INR response per unit warfarin dose cannot be explained by biologic mechanisms or confounding, we conclude that slightly reduced bioavailability (within the acceptable bioequivalence range) of the new formulation led to overestimated period 2 doses and reduced apparent warfarin sensitivity in all patient subgroups (by period 1 dose or INR), which was most prominent in those individuals with the lowest maintenance dose requirements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-221
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2003


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