Plavix plus heartburn remedies could be dangerous for stent patients

11/12/2008

NEW YORK Reports released this week claim that stent patients taking Plavix, a blood thinning drug, should avoid certain remedies for heartburn due to increased risk of heart attack, stroke or other dangerous events.

Researchers followed about 14,000 patients in a database operated by pharmacy benefits manager Medco Health Solutions over the course of a year [2005 to 2006], reports said. Medco reported that 40 percent of the patients studied were taking prescription heartburn drugs, but if many other OTC heartburn drugs had been considered, the percentile would have been greater. All the patients in the study had been implanted with a stent—a tube made of wire-mesh that props open the arteries once they’ve been cleared of plaque, Medco said. The patients were tracked to see whether they would need hospitalization for heart and/or circulatory issues within one year of having stents implanted.

Findings concluded that stent patients taking Plavis who also took heartburn drugs, such as Nexium, or who had chronic stomach conditions had a much likelier chance of being hospitalized for chest pain, heart attack, stroke or other events.

Spokespersons at drug maker Bristol-Myers Squibb have questioned Medco’s approach and recommended patients speak to their doctors before changing their heartburn treatment regimens. Scientists at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association New Orleans had similar concerns upon hearing the data, reports said.

The report presented said that almost 40 percent of patients who had had a heart attack has other severe events within a year of having stent implantation and taking Plavix and heartburn drugs. But, of those patients who did not take heartburn drugs, only 26.2 percent had another event with like results.

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