Plavix is an anti-clotting medication, used to prevent blood clots that can lead to heart attacks or strokes in certain patients. It only works once it is converted or metabolized into its active form (clopidogrel) by the liver enzyme CYP2C19.
Normally, platelets in the blood clump together and form blood clots that stop bleeding. However, in some patients, these platelets clump together in narrow arteries, resulting in a clot in the artery, which can prevent proper blood flow. When blood flow is stopped in arteries that lead to the brain, the brain does not receive an adequate supply of oxygen, which can cause a transient ischemic attack. When arteries to the heart are blocked for a short time, patients experience angina (chest pain). When that blockage occurs for longer, patients experience a heart attack.
Plavix is prescribed to help prevent blood clots from forming in the arteries. The top-selling drug is made in the US by Bristol-Myers Squibb and internationally by Sanofi-Aventis.
On November 28, 2009, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning that patients who take Plavix should avoid using Prilosec or Priolosec OTC (omeprazole). The warning was issued because the FDA was concerned that when taken together, Plavix's effectiveness was reduced by approximately half.
"Patients at risk for heart attacks or strokes who use Plavix to prevent platelet aggregation will not get the full effect of this medicine if they are also taking Prilosec," said Mary Ross Southworth, Pharm.D., of the Division of Cardiovascular and Renal Products in the FDAs Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
Because Plavix does not work properly until it is converted or metabolized into its active form by the liver enzyme CYP2C19, Prilosec's blocking of that enzyme reduces the effectiveness of Plavix. According to the FDA, information provided by the manufacturers supported "the existence of a significant interaction that could negatively impact a person's health."
Other drugs that patients are urged to stay away from while taking Plavix include Nexium, Tagamet and Tagamet HB, Diflucan, Nizoral and Prozac.
In 2006, a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine called the Clopidogrl for High Atherothrombotic Risk and Ischemic Stabilization Management and Avoidance (CHARISMA) study found that there was no added benefit to treating patients with both clopidogrel and aspirin combined as compared with aspirin and a placebo.
Plavix CHARISMA Study
Researchers further found that in a subgroup of participants who were given the combined medications as a preventative measure, but were not symptomatic of stroke or heart attack, the risk of moderate to severe bleeding increased. Furthermore, the risk of death increased in patients who were given clopidogrel. Among asymptomatic patients, the rate of death from cardiovascular causes was 3.9 percent among those who were given clopidogrel and 2.2 percent among those given a placebo.
A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine (as reported by The New York Times; 01/20/05) found that patients taking Plavix suffered 12 times more ulcers than patients who took aspirin plus a heartburn medication. Many patients were reportedly put on Plavix because it was believed to have lower rates of ulcers than aspirin, a belief that was reportedly undermined by the study. The study found that of patients who took Plavix during the analysis, 8.6 percent had a bleeding ulcer during a 12-month period, while 0.7 percent of those given aspirin and Nexium had a bleeding ulcer.
Plavix Stomach Bleeding
Researchers recommended that some patients who took Plavix be switched to aspirin and a heartburn medication because the aspirin not only appears safer, but is also reportedly less expensive than Plavix.
Lawyers are currently investigating the possibility of a Plavix lawsuit against the makers of the anti-clotting drug.
Register your Plavix ComplaintIf you or a loved one has suffered abdominal bleeding while taking Plavix, you may qualify for damages or remedies that may be awarded in a Plavix class action or lawsuit. Please click the link below to submit your complaint to a lawyer for a free evaluation.
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