A keenly awaited clinical trial has revealed that long term use of AstraZeneca’s drug Brilinta can reduce the risk of another heart attack or stroke, death in patients with a history of heart attacks by 16%.
It will come as a heads up for AstraZeneca is relying on increased sales of its blood-thinner to drive growth. However the Doctors will still have to balance its benefits as well as bleeding risks while prescribing the drug.
Trial researcher Marc Sabatine of Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital told Reuters, “There will be more bleeding, but I think the benefit for patients in terms of reducing their risk of dying or having another heart attack or stroke outweighs that.”
There were no increased instances of fatal or irreversible bleeding into the brain.
Opinion is mixed about the use of the blood thinner. John Keaney, attached to the University of Massachusetts Medical School, who were not involved in the study, opined that a “fragile balance” should be established while using potent blood-thinners that can trigger bleeding. John revealed that for each 10,000 patients treated with Brilinta, 42 cardiovascular events were prevented annually but it also lead to 31 cases of major bleeding.
At present the recommended standard care for patients more than one year on from a heart attack is aspirin alone. Therefore adding Brilinta to the regimen will lead to a major increase in sales opportunities.
Brilinta has been struggling to get a foothold in the market though AstraZeneca has high hopes from it and hopes to sell $3.5 billion annually by 2023. AstraZeneca had fought off a takeover bid by Pfizer last year. At present Brilinta sales amounts to $476 million and is expected to reach $1.5 billion by 2020.
AstraZeneca did not give the full details of its biggest ever, 21,000 patient trials except that it was positive. Details were only revealed at the American College of Cardiology annual meeting, with simultaneous publication in the New England Journal of Medicine.