Journal study raises questions about Plavix

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Patients taking the anti-stroke drug Plavix, experience more than 12 times as many ulcers as patients who take the alternative treatment of aspirin plus a heartburn pill, according to a study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine
Up to half of those taking Plavix do so because their doctors assume that Plavix is safer on the stomach that aspirin, said Francis Chan, the study's lead author.
Both the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recommend that heart and stroke patients at risk of developing ulcers be given Plavix instead of aspirin.
The study's findings could be perceived as bad news for Sanofi-Aventis and Bristol-Myers Squibb, which co-market the drug. Plavix had $2.8 billion in sales during the first half of 2004 and is on track to becoming one of the three top selling drugs in the world.
But a spokesman for BMS told the New York Times that the study did not directly compare aspirin and Plavix. Instead, the difference in ulcers could be entirely the result of the heartburn pill, which has long been known to prevent ulcers.
He said the study should have included a group of patients who got Plavix plus a heartburn pill.
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