AUDIENCE: Cardiology, Hematology, Surgery
ISSUE: An FDA review has determined that long-term use of the blood-thinning drug Plavix (clopidogrel) does not increase or decrease overall risk of death in patients with, or at risk for, heart disease. FDA evaluation of the Dual Antiplatelet Therapy (DAPT) trial and several other clinical trials also does not suggest that clopidogrel increases the risk of cancer or death from cancer.
In order to investigate the increased risk of death and cancer-related death reported with clopidogrel in the DAPT trial, FDA examined the results of the DAPT trial and other large, long-term clinical trials of clopidogrel with data available on rates of death, death from cancer, or cancer reported as an adverse event.
FDA performed meta-analyses of other long-term clinical trials to assess the effects of clopidogrel on death rates from all causes. The results indicate that long-term (12 months or longer) dual antiplatelet therapy with clopidogrel and aspirin do not appear to change the overall risk of death when compared to short-term (6 months or less) clopidogrel and aspirin, or aspirin alone. Also, there was no apparent increase in the risks of cancer-related deaths or cancer-related adverse events with long-term treatment.
FDA is working with the manufacturers of clopidogrel to update the label to reflect the results of the mortality meta-analysis.
BACKGROUND: Clopidogrel is an antiplatelet medicine used to prevent blood clots in patients who have had a heart attack, stroke, or problems with the circulation in the arms and legs. It works by helping to keep the platelets in the blood from sticking together and forming clots that can occur with certain medical conditions.
RECOMMENDATION: Patients should not stop taking clopidogrel or other antiplatelet medicines because doing so may result in an increased risk of heart attacks and blood clots. Talk with your health care professional if you have any questions or concerns about clopidogrel.
Health care professionals should consider the benefits and risks of available antiplatelet medicines before starting treatment. See the Drug Safety Communication for more information, including Additional Information for Patients, Caregivers, and Health Care Professionals, and a Data Summary.
Healthcare professionals and patients are encouraged to report adverse events or side effects related to the use of these products to the FDA's MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program:
- Complete and submit the report Online: www.fda.gov/MedWatch/report
- Download form or call 1-800-332-1088 to request a reporting form, then complete and return to the address on the pre-addressed form, or submit by fax to 1-800-FDA-0178
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