Thursday, September 09, 2010

New blood-thinners - potentially in the works

If you know someone who went through a stroke or heart-related ailment, you might know someone who takes the drug warfarin, also knows as Coumadin. Another wide use of the same chemical, and I kid you not: rat poison.

This isn't designed to scare people off taking warfarin. I was on it for years and while it's exceedingly difficult to prove a negative, it very well could have prevented multiple strokes or mini-strokes. If your doctor prescribes this medication, follow the instructions to the letter.

That being said, the medication requires frequent blood draws and can result in excessive bleeding. It plays badly with several other medications and even some foods. So medical experts have been working on replacements for years.

Now, some good - although muddled - news. Analysis: No clear winner in 3-horse anticoagulant race:

Industry analysts estimate the warfarin-replacement market at more than $10 billion a year and possibly up to $20 billion.

Medical experts have cheered the arrival of a new generation of anti-clotting drugs, since it is hard to maintain the right balance of warfarin in patients and the drug also interacts badly with certain foods and other medicines.

"Patients and physicians have been begging for a warfarin replacement," according to Ralph Brindis, president of the American College of Cardiology.
 (Image from the National Institutes of Health; not a real photo of warfarin, by the way)

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