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Heartburn Drugs, Plavix Seem Safe to Take Together
Date:10/7/2010

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Heartburn drugs known as proton-pump inhibitors can safely be taken with the blood thinner Plavix, a new study indicates.

There has been concern that these medications, called PPIs, might interfere with the ability of Plavix (clopidogrel) to do its job.

"This is reassuring data that there is not any clinically significant interaction between clopidogrel and PPIs," said lead researcher Dr. Deepak L. Bhatt, chief of cardiology at the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System.

"This is contrary to prior observational, non-randomized studies that showed that if you took clopidogrel and a PPI, it blunted the ability of clopidogrel to protect from things like heart attack," he noted.

In addition, this is the first randomized clinical trial to show that prophylactic use of PPIs for patients taking Plavix reduces gastrointestinal bleeding, he said.

Doctors often prescribe the two drugs in combination to prevent clotting and reduce the risk of stomach bleeding, which can be a serious complication for patients taking Plavix.

Randomized, double-blind trials that compare outcomes of patients taking a drug or placebo, or another drug are considered the "gold standard" of clinical trials, because they can actually show what patients experience.

In contrast, observational studies use data from patient records or other sources to paint a picture of patient outcomes. Since these data are from past experience, the conclusions of these studies can find associations, but not establish causes of outcomes.

The report is published in the Oct. 6 online edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

For the study, Bhatt and colleagues randomly assigned 3,873 patients who needed Plavix to Plavix alone or in combination with omeprazole (Prilosec) or a placebo; patients also received aspirin.

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