WEDNESDAY, July 6 (HealthDay News) -- The heart failure drug Natrecor (nesiritide) is ineffective and linked to increased rates of potentially dangerous low blood pressure, a new study finds.
The intravenous drug was approved in 2001 to help heart failure patients breathe more easily when they were struggling with severe shortness of breath. But the drug had no significant effect on breathing difficulties or other disease-related problems and may also result in low blood pressure, according to the researchers.
The report was published in the July 7 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
The study "doesn't show any use for nesiritide, that's for sure," said Dr. Eric J. Topol, professor of translational genomics at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., and author of an accompanying journal editorial.
Topol noted nesiritide isn't used much, because it is considered no better than some other less expensive drugs. According to Topol, who was not involved in the study, nesiritide can cost $500 to $700 per infusion. Other drugs such as Lasix (furosemide),and nitroglycerin given intravenously cost substantially less and have proven efficacy, he said.
However, Topol's real concerns are much broader. "It shouldn't take this long to find out the truth about a drug," he said. "There should be a drive to get as much information about a drug as early as possible and not have a lost decade, as we saw here."
One of the study authors noted that the research documented the potential risks and benefits of the drug in people with heart failure who have severe trouble breathing -- a condition called dyspnea -- because their disease is worsening.
"This trial demonstrated that nesiritide did not cause an increase in the rate of death or worsening of renal function and that prior concerns regarding the safety of nesiritide were unfounded," said st
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