Stopping Plavix may boost heart risks

Patients had better be careful when they stop taking the anticlotting drug Plavix. A new study shows that those treated with Plavix for a heart attack or angina had a "rebound effect" risk of heart attack or death. Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the research found that the rate of those adverse events nearly doubled during the 90 days after patients stopped Plavix.

But this doesn't mean docs should toss aside the drug. The researchers said that the rebound might be managed by weaning patients gradually from the drug or by adding aspirin as dosage is reduced. Or, they suggested, patients might avoid the problems by continuing to take Plavix indefinitely.

The latter suggestion could be good news for manufacturer Bristol-Myers Squibb and marketer Sanofi-Aventis, at least till the drug's patent expires in 2011 or generic versions make it to market, whichever comes first. BMS has been fighting off various generic challenges--and briefly lost, as Apotex launched a copycat Plavix in late 2006. Plavix sales were up substantially in 2007, helping fuel 65 percent growth in BMS' pharma revenues.

- see the study abstract
- check out the article in the Wall Street Journal
- read BMS' earnings release

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Generic Plavix grabs big market share. Report
Injunction issued against generic Plavix. Report