Pharmacology of Rivaroxaban


Rivaroxaban is a novel oral anticoagulant (NOAC) belonging to the class of direct factor Xa inhibitors. It is commonly used in the prevention and treatment of thromboembolic disorders.

Chemical Structure and Properties


Rivaroxaban is chemically described as 5-chloro-N-({(5S)-2-oxo-3-[4-(3-oxomorpholin-4-yl)phenyl]-1,3-oxazolidin-5-yl}methyl)thiophene-2-carboxamide. It is a highly selective, direct factor Xa inhibitor with high oral bioavailability.

Mechanism of Action


Rivaroxaban exerts its anticoagulant effect by directly inhibiting factor Xa, an essential component in the blood coagulation cascade. By inhibiting this factor, rivaroxaban prevents the conversion of prothrombin to thrombin, thereby reducing blood clot formation.


  • Absorption: Rivaroxaban is rapidly absorbed, with maximum plasma concentrations (Cmax) occurring 2-4 hours post-dose. Food does not affect its bioavailability.
  • Distribution: It has a moderate volume of distribution, indicating substantial tissue distribution. Rivaroxaban is highly plasma-protein-bound.
  • Metabolism: Partially metabolized by the liver through the CYP3A4/5 and CYP2J2 pathways. It also undergoes renal and biliary excretion.
  • Excretion: Eliminated through a combination of renal and faecal pathways, with about one-third of the dose excreted unchanged in the urine.

Clinical Uses

  • Prevention of Venous Thromboembolism (VTE): Used in adults undergoing elective hip or knee replacement surgery.
  • Treatment of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and Pulmonary Embolism (PE): Effective in the treatment and secondary prevention of DVT and PE.
  • Stroke Prevention in Atrial Fibrillation: Prescribed for the prevention of stroke and systemic embolism in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation.

Adverse Effects

  • Bleeding: The most significant risk associated with rivaroxaban is bleeding, including major bleeding and non-major clinically relevant bleeding.
  • Gastrointestinal Symptoms: Nausea, vomiting, and constipation can occur.
  • Liver Injury: Hepatobiliary disorders, including elevated liver enzymes and jaundice, have been reported.

Contraindications and Precautions

  • Active Pathological Bleeding: Contraindicated in patients with significant active bleeding.
  • Renal Impairment: Dose adjustment is necessary in patients with renal impairment.
  • Liver Disease: Not recommended in patients with hepatic disease associated with coagulopathy and clinically relevant bleeding risk.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Safety in pregnancy and lactation has not been established.

Drug Interactions

  • CYP3A4 Inhibitors and Inducers: May affect rivaroxaban plasma levels.
  • Anticoagulants and antiplatelet agents: Increased risk of bleeding with concomitant use.
  • NSAIDs: Co-administration can increase the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding.

Special Considerations

  • Perioperative Management: Careful consideration is required regarding the timing of the last dose before surgical procedures due to the risk of bleeding.
  • Monitoring: Unlike warfarin, routine monitoring of coagulation parameters is not required, but renal function should be periodically assessed.


Rivaroxaban represents a significant advancement in anticoagulation therapy, offering ease of use and a predictable pharmacokinetic profile. However, its use requires careful consideration of bleeding risks, renal function, and potential drug interactions.

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