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"I would not change practice based on these data," said Harrington, who led an American College of Cardiology panel that last month said it was reasonable for doctors to prescribe these two drugs together.
All patients in the Medco study had been implanted with a stent, or a wire-mesh tube used to prop open arteries after they have been cleared of plaque. The study tracked whether they had been hospitalized for the heart and circulatory problems within a year of the stent being implanted.
In patients who had not suffered a previous heart attack, 32.5 percent patients who took Plavix and a heartburn drug experienced one of the severe events within a year of their stent surgery. Those events were seen in just 21.2 percent of patients who took only Plavix.
In patients who had suffered a previous heart attack, 39.8 percent of patients experienced the severe events within a year. In patients who did not take the heartburn drugs, only 26.2 percent did.
Plavix, or clopidogrel, is the second best-selling drug in the world, with global sales of $7.3 billion in 2007. It is marketed by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Sanofi-Aventis SA.
Heartburn drugs were the fourth best-selling class of drugs last year, with sales of $25.6 billion, according to IMS Health.
Shares of Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. fell 34 cents Tuesday to close at $20.04. Shares of Paris-based Sanofi-Aventis rose 5 cents to $30.02.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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