STUDY shows lasting benefits from drug given in angioplasty

Tuesday, May 15th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CHICAGO (AP) _ A clot-blocking drug given to patients during angioplasty appears to reduce the risk of heart attack and death in the six months afterward by about 37 percent.

Previous research showed that eptifibatide, sold as Integrilin, significantly reduces complications in the 48 hours after angioplasty.

The new study followed most of the same 2,064 patients for six months and found that 7.5 percent of those who got Integrilin had suffered heart attacks or had died, compared with 11.5 percent treated with a placebo.

The Duke University study was funded COR Therapeutics Inc. and Schering-Plough Corp., Integrilin's developers. It was published in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association.

``The fact that we see this at six months is important. It shows that the benefits are durable,'' said Dr. Sidney Smith, chief science officer of the American Heart Association.

Angioplasties are done on more than half a million Americans yearly, using balloon-tipped catheters to open clogged heart arteries. During the procedure, doctors often implant tiny tubes called stents to help keep arteries propped open. All of the patients in the study received stents.

The Duke researchers said the findings suggest that doctors consider using drugs like Integrilin for all angioplasty patients.

Integrilin prevents blood platelets from sticking together to form clots. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1998 for use in heart patients.