Heart patients with drug-coated stents who stop taking the popular bloodthinner Plavix are quickly put at a higher risk of death, according to a new study published in the "Journal of the American Medical Association."
The finding could boost sales of the blockbuster drug made by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi-Aventis .
Drug-coated stents prop open clogged arteries, but some studies say that months or years later potentially fatal blood clots form. Patients are put on Plavix to help prevent that.
Researchers who looked at the medical records of more than 3-thousand VA patients say within three months of going off the drug there was a significantly higher or nearly double the risk of death or having a heart attack.
Medical groups including the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology recently issued guidelines requiring drug-coated stent patients stay on Plavix for at least a year, maybe longer.
The JAMA study suggests those guidelines be revisited and that patients may need to stay on Plavix indefinitely, similar to people who take an aspirin a day to try to stave off a heart attack.
Plavix is among the top-selling drugs in the world. One of the authors of the study has received funding from BMY and SNY.