A new anti-clotting drug called Cangrelor is 22 percent more likely to reduce the serious complications from stent surgery, including life-threatening blood clots, than the popular billion-dollar anti-clotting agent Plavix. That’s the conclusion reached by a team of American researchers who published their results Sunday in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).
Plavix is one of the top 10 best-selling drugs of the decade, with over $6 billion worth of the medication being sold in the United States 2010. And, yes, that is billion with a b. Over $9 billion was sold worldwide in that year when it was ranked the number two best-selling drug in the world. The anti-clotting agent is marketed by Bristol-Myers Squibb for its effectiveness as a blood thinner that fights the formation of deadly blood clots.
Medicine Co, the makers of Cangrelor, would clearly like a piece of that market. However, Cangrelor isn’t just a “me too” drug. It offers some significant differences from Plavix.
The older drug must be given by mouth, which makes it difficult for extremely ill patients to tolerate. Dr. Deepak Bhatt, lead author of the NEJM report, said that Cangrelor can be given intravenously. He added that it also works much faster than Plavix, which sometimes takes a long time to start working — and then also a long time to leave the system.
Cangrelor can serve as an anti-clotting drug during stent surgery and then be gone from the patient’s body in an hour.
Although it may be a better choice for surgeons installing stents, Cangrelor isn’t likely to take the place of Plavix for all medical purposes. Reuters consulted a financial analyst, Adrian Butt, who said that he estimated that it will achieve peak sales of around $400 million a year by 2019 — a far cry from Plavix’s multi-billion dollar grosses.
Nonetheless, the anti-clotting drug offers another tool in the kit for cardiac surgeons.
[blood clot photo courtesy flickr and Joel Penner]