Plavix Side Effects May Outweigh Benefits for Kidney Patients: Study

A new study raises serious questions about the benefits of using the blood thinner Plavix to help people with chronic kidney disease avoid suffering a heart attack. 

According to research published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the medication appears to provide individuals suffering kidney disease with little or no benefits, yet exposes them to the risk of serious bleeding events and other side effects of Plavix.

Researchers from New Zealand, Australia and Italy looked at a multitude of studies involving more than 20,000 patients. They found that among kidney disease patients suffering from acute coronary syndrome, Plavix had little or no benefits when compared to standard care that did not include the blood thinner. However, those individuals faced an increased risk of major bleeding events.

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In studies of patients without acute coronary syndrome, Plavix only slightly decreased the risk of having a heart attack when compared to no care at all or if the patient was given a placebo.

The researchers concluded that the benefits for Plavix or any antiplatelet therapy among those suffering from chronic kidney disease is likely outweighed by the bleeding risks.

Plavix (clopidogrel) is a heavily marketed medication, which is designed to prevent blood platelets from sticking together to form clots. It is a blockbuster medication, generating annual sales of over $6 billion for Bristol Myers Squibb Co. and Sanofi-Aventis.

The drug makers currently face a number of Plavix lawsuits filed on behalf of individuals who suffered serious injuries that were allegedly caused by side effects of the medication. Many of the complaints allege that the drug makers widely promoted the expensive medication, even though it may actually provide no benefit over the four-cent-a-day aspirin for many patients. Some complaints also allege that the drug maker failed to warn that it may not be effective for certain groups of patients.

Plaintiffs allege that they suffered injuries as a result of the side effects of Plavix, such as gastrointestinal bleeding, severe ulcers, heart attacks, strokes and a rare blood disorder known as TTP, or thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpora.


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