Semin Thromb Hemost 1999; 25(1): 13-16
DOI: 10.1055/s-2007-996418
Copyright © 1999 by Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc.

Pharmacology of Warfarin and Clinical Implications

Christina Keller, Axel C. Matzdorff, Bettina Kemkes-Matthes
  • From the Department of Hematology and Hemostasis, Justus-Liebig-University, Giessen, Germany.
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
06 February 2008 (online)


The history of oral anticoagulants started in the 1920s in North Dakota and Alberta when a new type of hemorrhagic disease struck cattle in these areas. The group of Karl Paul Link finally succeeded in isolating the causative agent, dicumarol. It was not before the 1940s, that dicumarol or its derivatives were introduced to medicine. Acenocoumarol, phenprocoumon, and warfarin are the most commonly used oral anticoagulants. There is no known difference in the pharmacodynamic activity of these agents on the vitamin K metabolism. They are completely absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and are firmly bound to plasma albumin and metabolized in the liver. The different elimination half-lives of the coumarins have several implications for patient management. Absorption, protein binding, and anticoagulant activity of oral anticoagulants are affected in many different ways. Also the different pharmacological properties of coumarins require different strategies in the clinical management of patients.