August 12, 2009

New anti-clotting drug is studied

U.S. scientists, part of an international team, say they are testing a new treatment to prevent blood clots that might form after joint replacement surgery.

Gary Raskob, dean of the University of Oklahoma's College of Public Health, and a team of scientists from Denmark, Australia and Canada said the blood clots -- known as deep-vein thrombosis -- affect the large veins in the lower leg and thigh. If the clot breaks free and moves through the bloodstream, it can lodge in the lungs, a condition known as pulmonary embolism that's often fatal and is the most common preventable cause of sudden death after surgery.

Current preventive treatments include uncomfortable injections and one oral anti-clotting medicine that are difficult for patients and physicians to manage.

In the double-blind study, researchers tested a new type of anti-clotting drug called Apixaban, which is an oral medication. The researchers said the medicine proved just as effective at preventing blood clots, reduced the risk of bleeding by half and was much easier to use.

This is a major step in our fight to prevent DVT and the many unnecessary deaths each year caused by blood clots after joint replacement surgery, said Raskob, a lead researcher in the study.

Apixaban is currently in Phase III clinical trials.

The research is reported in the Aug. 6 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.