|5:38:31 PM - Mon, Oct 5th 2020
|An inexpensive drug that is already widely used in developed countries could save as many as 100,000 lives per year globally, according to a study released today in the British medical journal Lancet.
The drug is called tranexamic acid (TXA), and it costs only about $9 per dose in its generic form. TXA is a simple, synthetic derivative of lysine, an amino acid that occurs naturally in the body. TXA impedes the body’s ability to naturally break down potentially dangerous blood clots, which helps decrease bleeding.
TXA is used in many countries to stop unwanted bleeding during surgeries, and the British study, called CRASH-2, was the first to test the medication with accident victims who had serious injuries. Nearly 6 million people die of injuries worldwide, including 2 million who die in car accidents. Injuries due to any type of accident are the second-leading cause of death worldwide, second only to HIV/AIDS.
TXA was administered by injection to 10,000 adult trauma patients in 274 hospitals in 40 countries within 8 hours of their injuries. Another 10,000 adult trauma patients received a placebo. The study found that patients who received TXA were 15 percent less likely to die from excessive bleeding, and 10 percent less likely to die from any other cause.
The researchers predicted that, on an annual basis, about 13,000 lives could be saved in India, about 12,000 in China and about 2,000 in the U.S.
Based on these findings, epidemiologist Ian Roberts of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine attempted last week to have the World Health Organization include TXA on its List of Essential Medicines. These drugs are used commonly in developing countries and often are provided at no cost by United Nations agencies such as UNICEF.
Many medical experts who were aware of the study expressed concerns that widespread use of TXA might lead to increased embolisms, heart attacks, strokes and other events – but TXA did not cause this increase and was shown to exhibit an excellent safety profile.
Developing countries could find TXA to be a very important medication because auto accidents, now the ninth-leading cause of deaths worldwide, are expected to become the third-leading cause of deaths by 2020. This is due to the fact more people will be driving cars in developing countries.
Most of the funds for the study were provided by Britain’s National Institute for Health Research. Pfizer, which sells TXA under brand name Cyklokapron, provided the TXA for the study.
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