The anti-platelet medication, Plavix (clopidogrel), has been linked to a deadly blood disorder, Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura. TTP is rare blood disorder in which blood clots form throughout the body’s small blood vessels, explained NewInferno.
These clots can lead to significant problems if blood vessels are blocked and blood flow becomes limited to major organs, such as the brain, kidneys, and heart. Plavix is manufactured by Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Plavix stops platelets from clustering and forming blood clots, acting as a blood thinner, and is the most popular anti-platelet medication next to aspirin, said LiveStrong, which also discussed Plavix’ links to TTP. Plavix is prescribed to treat peripheral artery disease (PAD). PAD takes place when plaque—which is comprised of fat, cholesterol, and calcium—builds in arteries, narrowing them and increasing stroke risks, said LiveStrong. Plavix is also prescribed as a blood thinner in stroke patients and to prevent blood-clot induced heart attacks and angina.
TTP is a known red blood cell destroyer that can also lead to anemia; however, despite this and known organ damage links, physicians routinely prescribe Plavix, said The New York Times.
A prior Times report revealed that research conducted by Dr. Charles L. Bennett of Chicago’s Veterans Administration Healthcare System associated Plavix to 13 TTP cases. Eleven cases were discussed in a June 15 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine; two probable cases were identified after the report was submitted, said The Times, citing co-author Dr. Charles J. Davidson of Northwestern University.
According to the study, said The Times, TTP generally manifested two weeks after Plavix treatment initiated. TTP calls for significant medical treatment, including plasma exchange, an expensive procedure that involves the removal of considerable amounts the blood’s plasma—the blood’s liquid component, the Times explained. TTP recurred as far into the future as seven months after ceasing Plavix use and called for 6-12 plasma exchanges; one patient needed 30 and one died, said The Times. According to the journal, the Heart, TTP results in death in 10-20% of cases, said LiveStrong.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) updated the Plavix label warning in April 2005, to indicate that rare TTP reports were linked with its use, sometimes with exposures as short as under two weeks.