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New Canadian study finds drug coated heart stents to be safe:
Date:10/3/2007

and the University of Toronto, says, "Physicians implanting the devices need to ensure patients who get a drug-eluting stent also take anti-clotting medication such as aspirin and clopidogrel (antiplatelet therapy) for a minimum of one year after the angioplasty procedure. This therapy reduces the risk of fatal blood clots associated with drug-eluting stents. This prolonged period of clopidogrel usage could explain differences between results in Ontario, compared to those from other countries, such as Sweden. In our study, these medications were made available to all elderly patients in Ontario, at minimal cost, through the Ontario Drug Benefits Program for one year after the angioplasty procedure."

Since their introduction in 2003, more than six million heart patients worldwide have received a drug-eluting stent (DES). The DES market is worth $5 billion a year, costing about $2300 for a DES versus $700 for a bare metal stent (BMS). The rate of DES use in countries like the United States was as high as 90% but dropped to about 70% in the past year, after recent controversy over safety. Recent studies from Europe and Sweden suggest DES may increase mortality and heart attack after a coronary angioplasty. The rate of DES usage in Ontario was on average 38% of all stents during the study period. In 2003, the Ontario government approved the introduction of DES provincially, conditional upon an independent evaluation of their effectiveness and cost-effectiveness. Approximately 20,000 angioplasties are performed each year in the province of Ontario.

The study "Effectiveness and safety of drug-eluting stents in Ontario" is in the October 4th issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. The study was funded by operating grants from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care and a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Team Grant in Cardiovascular Outcomes Research.

Author affiliations: ICES (J.V.T., M.C., D.T.K., P.C.A., Y.H.) and Sunnybrook Healt
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SOURCE Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences
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