CHICAGO (AP) - A promising anti-clotting drug does not improve hospitalized heart attack patients' chances of surviving a year when it is added to the standard treatment, a study found.
The disappointing results came in a follow-up international study of 16,588 patients who received intravenous doses of a standard clot-busting medicine with or without the newer drug, abciximab, or ReoPro.
ReoPro, known as a "super aspirin," helps keep blood particles called platelets from sticking together and forming a clot that can cause a heart attack. The older drug, reteplase, attacks different substances in blood clots.
ReoPro's primary use is for patients undergoing angioplasty, a technique that opens clogged blood vessels. In a study reported last year and funded by ReoPro's U.S. marketers Centocor and Eli Lilly, researchers tried using it in a different way, combining it with a reduced dose of reteplase in patients who had just suffered a heart attack. The combination treatment lowered patients' 30-day risk of a repeat heart attack by 30 percent.
But in the follow-up study, the death rates after a year were identical - nearly 700 patients in both groups died, or about 8 percent in each.
The findings were published in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association.
The researchers said the reasons for the findings are unclear.
Dr. A. Michael Lincoff of Cleveland Clinic, who helped conduct the study, said ReoPro may still be a useful drug because it can reduce the short-term risk of repeat heart attacks and has other heart benefits.
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