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Antiplatelet heart drug launched

UK patients are the first to benefit from new heart drug, prasugrel (Efient), following authorisation by the European Medicines Agency

UK patients are the first to benefit from new heart drug, prasugrel (Efient), following authorisation by the European Medicines Agency. The drug is for patients who have unstable angina or have had a heart attack - known as Acute Coronary Syndromes (ACS) - who undergo a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) procedure (angioplasty) to re-open a narrowed or blocked artery. When taken with aspirin, data shows that prasugrel may help prevent further cardiovascular events in these patients.

The approval of prasugrel is based upon the results of several trials, including TRITON-TIMI 38, involving 13,608 patients worldwide. It found that, compared to clopidogrel (PLAVIX), prasugrel reduced the risk of cardiovascular death, heart attack or stroke in ACS PCI patients by 19 per cent and cut their risk of recurrent cardiovascular events by 35 per cent.

Prasugrel is the first new oral antiplatelet drug of its type to be licensed in the UK for more than a decade. Antiplatelet drugs work by stopping platelets – the tiny blood cells vital for the normal clotting process – from clumping or sticking together and forming life-threatening clots in arteries.

Dr Marcus Flather, consultant cardiologist at Royal Brompton Hospital, London, said: "Prasugrel is a welcome breakthrough as it builds on existing treatments by further reducing the risk of heart attacks and death in patients who have had a heart attack and an angioplasty procedure. Unstable angina and heart attack are the major causes of death and disability worldwide. The UK still has one of the highest rates of these conditions in the world and new drugs like prasugrel, in addition to aspirin, are vital to decreasing the risk for patients with these life-threatening conditions."

Dr Robert Storey, cardiologist at the Department of Cardiovascular Science, University of Sheffield, said: "UK physicians face many challenges with antiplatelet therapy including risk of bleeding and variability of patient response. Prasugrel, taken with aspirin, offers consistent platelet control which is particularly important for those at higher risk of recurrent heart attack."

Over 73,000 PCI treatments are carried out in the UK annually, compared with around 10,000 in 1991, a figure currently increasing by 5 per cent per year. About 8.5 per cent of ACS patients experience a clot-related heart problem within a year of PCI treatment.

8th April 2009

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