Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Anti-bleeding drug alternatives less risky, cheaper and nearly as effective: study

From the Canadian Press:
A new analysis of clinical trials of a controversial anti-bleeding drug used in heart surgery says that cheaper, safer alternatives work nearly as well and should be recommended.

The review was rushed to print Tuesday by the Canadian Medical Association Journal in advance of a hearing Wednesday of a panel of experts who have been asked to advise Health Canada on future use of the drug, aprotinin.

"For routine use there is no clear advantage of aprotinin that justifies the apparent increase in mortality and the undoubted increase in cost," said Dr. David Henry, lead author of the review and CEO of the Institute of Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto.

"So that in routine clinical practice, there is not now a role for this drug as an adjunct to cardiac surgery."

Aprotinin - which is sold under the brand name Trasylol - was used to reduce bleeding and minimize the need for blood transfusions during coronary artery bypass surgery. Made by pharmaceutical giant Bayer Inc., the drug was thought to be more effective than older anti-bleeding therapies tranexamic acid and aminocaproic acid.

But a landmark clinical trial comparing aprotinin to the alternatives was stopped in October 2007 when it was found that the rate of deaths among people who were given the drug was higher than that of people who got the older, cheaper drugs. ...more

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