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FDA Adds Boxed Warning to Plavix (Clopidogrel) Over Metabolization


Washington, DC: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has added a Boxed Warning to the label for Plavix, the anti-blood clotting medication. The Boxed Warning is about patients who do not effectively metabolize the drug (i.e. "poor metabolizers") and therefore may not receive the full benefits of the drug.

The Boxed Warning in the drug label will include information to:

Warn about reduced effectiveness in patients who are poor metabolizers of Plavix. Poor metabolizers do not effectively convert Plavix to its active form in the body.

Inform healthcare professionals that tests are available to identify genetic differences in CYP2C19 function.

Advise healthcare professionals to consider use of other anti-platelet medications or alternative dosing strategies for Plavix in patients identified as poor metabolizers.

Plavix is given to reduce the risk of heart attack, unstable angina, stroke, and cardiovascular death in patients with cardiovascular disease. Plavix works by decreasing the activity of blood cells called platelets, making platelets less likely to form blood clots.

For Plavix to work, enzymes in the liver (particularly CYP2C19) must convert (metabolize) the drug to its active form. Patients who are poor metabolizers of the drug, do not effectively convert Plavix to its active form. In these patients, Plavix has less effect on platelets, and therefore less ability to prevent heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular death. It is estimated that 2 to 14 percent of the population are poor metabolizers; the rate varies based on racial background.

Healthcare professionals should be aware that a subgroup of patients are poor metabolizers and do not metabolize Plavix effectively; this can result in reduced effectiveness of Plavix. Healthcare professionals should consider use of other anti-platelet medications or alternative dosing strategies for Plavix in these patients.

In May 2009, FDA added information about poor metabolizers of Plavix to the drug label. However, based on additional data reviewed by the agency (see Data Summary below) the Boxed Warning is now being added to highlight the reduced effectiveness of Plavix in these patients and to recommend that healthcare professionals consider use of other anti-platelet medications or alternative dosing strategies for Plavix in patients identified as poor metabolizers.

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Published on Mar-17-10


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