Researchers tag Plavix response gene

We're one step closer to pre-Plavix screening. A new study tagged a common gene variation that predicts patients' response to the blockbuster anti-clotting drug sold by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi-Aventis. The research, published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association, adds yet more evidence in support of testing patients before they get the drug.

The gene variation that undermines Plavix response is carried by nearly a third of the general population, the researchers said. Those with the variation were 2.4 times more likely to die, have a heart attack, or suffer a stroke when given Plavix after stent placement. "By scanning the entire genome, we found compelling evidence that the CYP2C19 gene is a key determinant of how people respond to this medication," Dr. Alan R. Shuldiner, lead author and director of the Program in Genetics and Genomic Medicine at the University of Maryland, said in a statement.

"If people have the gene variant, they might need to take a higher dose of clopidrogel or a different medication altogether," Shuldiner added, saying that more research is needed before routine testing starts. Eventually, Shuldiner told Reuters, genetic testing could help doctors choose between Plavix--which goes off patent in 2011, so will become the cheaper alternative--and the costlier, newly approved Effient blood thinner from Eli Lilly and Daiichi Sankyo.

- see the release from University of Maryland Medical Center
- check out the Reuters story