Friday, January 27, 2006

The Strange Story of the Drug Aprotinin (Trasylol): from "This Drug is Safe, Why Do We Need to Study This Further?" to "This Drug Kills People."

The drug Aprotinin, used during bypass surgery to reduce bleeding, is in the news lately because a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that it actually increases heart attacks, strokes, and kidney failure. This is particularly bizarre because less than a month ago Aprotinin was in the news as an example of a drug that is so safe that is should no longer be studied. From The Washington Post (January 2, 2006):
One article examined 18 years of research on aprotinin, a drug used to reduce bleeding during heart surgery. [The study] concluded that research on these subjects went on long after the answers were known -- namely, that aprotinin worked... Patients who received aprotinin during surgery bled less. They had only one-third the chance of needing a blood transfusion of patients who did not get the drug.

What was surprising was that this advantage was clear by June 1992, after the 12th of the 64 studies. If researchers after that time had familiarized themselves with previous studies -- and especially if they had analyzed summaries of those studies, called "meta-analyses" -- they might not have considered it necessary to run their own.
From The New York Times (January 26, 2006):
A drug used worldwide to reduce bleeding during heart surgery can increase the risk of kidney failure, heart attacks and strokes, and should be abandoned, doctors are reporting today. They say other medicines are safer and cheaper, and should be used instead.

The drug, aprotinin, is sold under the brand name Trasylol and made by Bayer...
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My daddy was given trasylol after his heart bypass surgery and now has kidney failure requiring dialysis 3 days a week. He NEVER had kidney problems before being given this drug. He was in good health aside from needing bypass surgery. Now, he also has arterial fibrillation and congestive heart failure. He has been in and out of the hospital for months now and I feel Trasylol has robbed him of his quality of life. I feel like Bayer Corp. is killing my father and I believe there are many who don't even know their problems are due to Trasylol. I know we didn't until someone told us to look it up. This drug is STILL on the market despite the proven harmful effects and FDA warnings and will probably injure many more people if nothing is done about it. Apparently health "care" is just an oxymoron and all that matters in this industry is big money. What a crock! Something must be done about this!