Irish News

Thursday 21 August 2014

Assumptions about stroke-drug deaths 'entirely incorrect'

Brian Byrne

Published 17/03/2014 | 02:30

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PET-CT sagittal scan of the brain
There has been links between certain stroke medications and deaths

Medical experts have urged people who take medication for strokes to continue to do so despite revelations that 19 deaths were associated with the drugs.

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Some 19 deaths over the past two years were associated with the consumption of two blood-thinning drugs known as Xarelto and Pradaxa, which are used to prevent strokes.

However, the Irish Medicine Board (IMB) has said that all of the people who died had "very serious underlying conditions" and said that none of the deaths were linked to either forms of stroke medication.

It added: "The IMB continually advises that people should not cease taking any medicine without seeking medical advice and would advise anyone who has any concerns to talk to their doctor."

The reported deaths were said to be three times higher than those linked to the older standard stroke drug, known as Warfarin.

In a statement, the IMB commented that "Assumptions based on comparing reports received for Warfarin with Pradaxa and Xarelto would be entirely incorrect as it is not comparing like with like. Medicine reporting rates are influenced by many factors, including the age of the medicine (with more reports received for newer medicines), the nature of the medicine and publicity about a medicine.

"Thus the reports of fatalities associated with the use of a medicine are not directly attributable to the usage of that medicine; it's down to a number of factors including proactive calls for reporting on a medicine; the patients having significant underlying illness and treated with multiple medicines and/or surgery."

The IMB also defended the 188 reports of suspected adverse reactions associated with the Xarelto and Pradaxa it had received in the past two years.

"Numerical comparisons cannot be made on the basis of reports received for Pradaxa, Xarelto and Warfarin and would be misleading.

"Adverse reaction reporting rates for Warfarin, which is a well-established medicine and has been available for over 50 years, would be expected to be lower than those for the newer drugs, where there is a significant effort to remind and request healthcare professionals and members of the public to report all reactions – including those suspected and expected."

Irish Independent

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