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New Heart Attack Drugs Effective

March 10, 1999

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Two new clot-busting drugs appear to be just as effective as the standard medicine for treating heart attacks and much easier to administer.

TPA revolutionized the treatment of heart attacks, the nation’s biggest killer. When given within a few hours of the start of pain, Genentech Inc.’s flagship medicine dissolves the clot that chokes off the heart’s blood supply, preventing permanent damage.

A major drawback is that TPA must be given as a continuous 90-minute infusion.

Researchers say the two new drugs are equally potent clot dissolvers, and they can be given as quick single injections.

Experts say the new drugs are likely to mean that heart attack victims can be treated faster, perhaps even before they reach the hospital, and this may save more lives.

Results of major studies with the two drugs were presented Tuesday in New Orleans at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology.

The drugs are lanoteplase, developed by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., and tenecteplase, developed by Genentech and Boehringer Ingelheim. In the studies, both drugs were compared against TPA but not against each other.

``We are all anxious to move beyond TPA,″ said Dr. Robert Califf of Duke University, who was not involved in the studies.

Tenecteplase was tested on 16,950 patients in 29 countries. Deaths after one month were an identical 6.2 percent in patients getting tenecteplase or TPA.

Lanoteplase was tested on 15,078 patients in 35 countries. After 30 days, 6.8 percent getting lanoteplase had died, compared with 6.6 percent getting TPA. This difference was not statistically meaningful.

``We think more patients will be treated more effectively with a simpler treatment,″ said Dr. Paul Armstrong of the University of Alberta, one of the tenecteplase researchers.

Neither new drug is available yet for routine use. Both studies were designed to persuade the Food and Drug Administration to approve the medicines.

TPA costs about $2,200 per patient. The companies have not announced how much they will charge for the new drugs.

TPA, short for tissue plasminogen activator, is a genetically engineered version of a natural clot-dissolving protein. The two new drugs are slightly modified versions of the same protein.

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