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Plavix-stomach drug interaction reported at cardiology meeting

Posted Mar 22 2009 3:37pm

A new study suggests that patients who take the blood thinner Plavix along with heartburn drugs have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke
Plavix is mainly used to prevent blood clots after a heart attack or stroke, and it is also helpful in people who have undergone stent placement for coronary disease. It works by interfering with platelet function in the blood. This drug is prescribed to patients with artery-opening stents and those who suffered a heart attack. According to IMS Health which tracks drug sales alleged, this drug reported approximately $4 billion sales in the year 2007.

Researchers carried out a new study on 16,690 persons and confirmed that patients who are taking Plavix without any other drug are safer than those stent patients who are administered Plavix along with certain heartburn medications like AstraZeneca PLC’s Nexium. These patients are at higher risk of having stroke, chest pain, heart attack and coronary artery bypass operation. These results were announced at the heart association's annual scientific meeting in New Orleans.

This finding of the study has implications for millions of patients who depend on Plavix. Many patients taking Plavix also use Nexium, Prilosec or a similar drug to prevent stomach bleeding and ulcers, the reported common side effects of Plavix. Dr Robert Epstein lamented that this is a law of unintended consequences that this drug which is intended to ease Plavix’s side effects also happen to blunt Plavix’s core purpose.

The president of the American Heart Association, Timothy Gardner, said that this study presents a considerable challenge for physicians. Dr. Paul Gurbel studied this phenomenon in 2003, and published a paper in the journal Circulation showing that nearly 30% of Plavix patients don't absorb the drug effectively.

Gurbel said if given a choice between Plavix and a proton-pump inhibitor, doctors should by and large keep the patient on Plavix and drop the other drug because Plavix is known to prevent fatal heart attacks.

However, it is reported that there is a possible solution to this problem: Cogentus Pharmaceuticals has reportedly raised about $100 million in private funding to develop a drug that combines clopidogrel, the blood thinner component in Plavix, with omeprazole (Prilosec), which is off-patent. The company claims to have a tablet that discharges the proton-pump inhibitor an hour or so after clopidogrel, which would serve to limit the impact of the heartburn drug on the anticlotting agent. The company is now enrolling 4,000 patients in a late-stage clinical trial.

Did you know?
While taking Plavix, do not take aspirin or other NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) without your doctor's recommendation. NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), diclofenac (Voltaren), diflunisal (Dolobid), etodolac (Lodine), flurbiprofen (Ansaid), indomethacin (Indocin), ketoprofen (Orudis), ketorolac (Toradol), mefenamic acid (Ponstel), meloxicam (Mobic), nabumetone (Relafen), piroxicam (Feldene), and other
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