Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Heart drug's higher death risk detailed in study

From the Toronto Star:
A massive Canadian study that caused a popular heart surgery drug to be pulled from the shelves last November has shown it increased the risk of death by 50 per cent over two rival medications.

Pharmaceutical giant Bayer AG voluntarily removed the anti-bleeding drug aprotinin, the generic name for Trasylol, from circulation when early results from the University of Ottawa-led study began to reveal its relative risks.

"The ... study will change the way heart surgery is done around the world," said Dr. David Mazer, an anesthesiologist at Toronto's St. Michael's Hospital and a co-author of the paper, the final draft of which was published online yesterday by the New England Journal of Medicine.

"As a result of the ... research, patients and their doctors can have that much more confidence going forward," Mazer told a media briefing in Ottawa this week.

"It was a bit of a surprise in seeing this," said Dr. Paul Hebert, a critical care physician at the Ottawa Hospital and a principal study investigator.

"We've ... shown, we think reasonably definitively, that (aprotinin) increases the risk of death as compared to two alternatives." ..more

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