November 5, 2007 in Nation/World

Blood thinner shows promise

Marilynn Marchione Associated Press
 

ORLANDO, Fla. – A new blood thinner proved better than Plavix, one of the world’s top-selling drugs, at preventing heart problems after procedures to open clogged arteries, doctors reported Sunday. But the new drug also raised the risk of serious bleeding.

People given the experimental drug, prasugrel, were nearly 20 percent less likely to suffer one of the problems in a combined measure – heart attack, stroke or heart-related death – than those given Plavix, a drug that millions of Americans take to prevent blood clots that cause these events.

However, for each heart-related death that prasugrel prevented, compared to Plavix, almost one additional bleeding death occurred.

“There is a price to pay” for greater effectiveness, Dr. Deepak Bhatt, a Cleveland Clinic cardiologist, wrote in an editorial accompanying the results, which were published online by The New England Journal of Medicine and presented at an American Heart Association conference in Florida.

Still, many doctors said that, on balance, the new drug comes out ahead and offers great promise as a more potent alternative to Plavix, which costs $4 a day and does not work for some patients.

Prasugrel is being developed by Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. and a Japanese firm, Daiichi Sankyo Co.

Like Plavix, prasugrel prevents platelets from sticking together and forming a clot. Anti-platelet drugs are advised for most people with stents – tiny mesh tubes that keep arteries open after balloon angioplasty, an artery-clearing procedure that more than a million Americans have each year.

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