AstraZeneca’s Heart Drug Beats Plavix in Phase III Study

heart_monitorBlood-thinning drug Plavix racks up over $8 billion in annual sales, but the blockbuster medication may have some new competition.  London-based AstraZeneca announcd that their experimental heart drug Brilinta worked better than Plavix in a large-scale clinical trial. The Phase III study, which involved over 18,000 patients, found that Brilinta was 13.5 percent more effective than Plavix in preventing heart attacks and strokes in patients with acute coronary syndrome.  Results of the study will be presented at the European Society of Cardiology annual meeting in August. AstraZeneca plans to apply for U.S. approval in the fourth quarter.

Analysts predict Brilinta could make between $1.6 and $3 billion in sales, but they say it’s too early for the drug to become an immediate threat to Plavix, which is due to lose patent protection in 2011. Questions about Brilinta’s side effects have yet to be answered, and the drug will need time to establish itself within the market. At the same time, another rival is emerging: Efient, developed by Eli Lilly and Daiichi Sankyo. Efient gained approval in Europe earlier this year. All three drugs reduce the ability of platelets to clump together and form life-threatening blood clots.

Plavix (manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis and Bristol-Myers Squibb) is the second best-selling prescription medication in the world. Last week, a cardiologists’ group warned against taking popular heartburn drugs in conjunction with Plavix. A study found that the interaction between Plavix and proton-pump inhibitors such as AstraZeneca’s Nexium raised the risk of heart attack and stroke by 50 percent.

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