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New drug targets major killer

7 April 2005

New drug targets major killer

North Shore Hospital joins international DVT trial

North Shore Hospital is the latest international study site for a new deep vein thrombosis (DVT) drug that could hold the key to preventing one of the leading causes of death in the western world.

Developed by Bayer Healthcare, the yet-to-be-named drug, currently known by its identity code Bay 59-7939, is an anticoagulant that stops blood clots from forming and causing DVT.

While DVT often starts in the leg, the blood clot can break off from the walls of the vein and travel into the lungs causing a pulmonary embolism or blockage to a lung artery.

Pulmonary embolism is one of the most common causes of death in hospitalised patients who must remain in bed for a long time.

Bayer Healthcare’s Medical Director for Australia and New Zealand, Dr Jeff Hassall, says the New Zealand trial was initially set up at two study centres – Auckland City Hospital’s Thromboembolism Unit and Christchurch Hospital’s Haematology Department.

“We are delighted that North Shore Hospital’s Thrombosis and Anticoagulation Service has joined this international trial.

“Ideally, we are looking at involving at least 10 patients per site as part of our worldwide study of about 600 patients.

“While we know that Bay 59-7939 does prevent blood clots, we need to compare its effectiveness against standard treatments.”

Dr David Simpson, who leads the trial at North Shore Hospital, says blood clots are a major threat to patients. “Until now, heparin followed by warfarin has been the standard treatment of someone with a thrombosis. Both drugs have problems; heparin needs to be given as an injection, while Warfarin requires close monitoring to get the dose right. This requires frequent blood tests, and often for no apparent reason the levels are too high or low. This translates into more episodes of bleeding or recurrence of a blood clot.”

Dr Simpson says Bayer’s new drug is one of a new generation of smart drugs and works by inhibiting Factor 10a, a specific part of the clotting mechanism. The aim of this is to prevent recurrence of a blood clot but still allow the patient to form a clot if they need to - reducing the risk of bleeding.

“The new substance from Bayer HealthCare could provide a better alternative to both heparin and warfarin. It can be taken in tablet form and has proven to be extremely well tolerated by trial subjects.”

“We are extremely enthusiastic about the future prospects of the new drug. As an oral drug, it is particularly useful for patients who need protection from blood clots over an extended period of time outside the hospital setting.”

About Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Thrombosis is the medical term for a blood clot. Clots can form in veins and arteries in different parts of the body. With a Deep Vein Thrombosis a clot forms in a vein in the leg. It may be in the calf or lower leg, behind the knee or in the thigh or upper leg.

If a piece of the clot breaks away, it can travel (or embolise) to the lungs where it is known as a Pulmonary Embolism (PE). This is a serious condition that can cause permanent damage to the lung, low oxygen levels in the blood and damage to other organs from lack of oxygen. If a clot is large enough, or there are many clots, PE can cause death.

Pulmonary embolism is one of the most common causes of death in hospitalised patients who must remain in bed for a long time.

Bayer HealthCare in New Zealand

Bayer HealthCare AG, a subgroup of Bayer AG with sales of approximately 8.9 billion Euro in 2003, is one of the world's leading, innovative companies in the health care and medical products industry. The company combines the global activities of the divisions Animal Health, Biological Products, Consumer Care, Diagnostics Professional Testing Systems and Diagnostics Self Testing Systems and Pharmaceuticals.

About 34,600 people are employed by Bayer HealthCare worldwide. Our aim is to discover and manufacture innovative products that will improve human and animal health worldwide. Our products enhance well-being and quality of life by diagnosing, preventing and treating disease.

In New Zealand, Bayer aims to make a positive contribution to the community, not only by providing innovative healthcare solutions, but also through our educational partnerships. For example, Bayer HealthCare supports ongoing clinical research and educational initiatives in the treatment of haemophilia. On a broader scale, we believe social commitment also extends to the environment.

We support initiatives to preserve and protect New Zealand’s native flora and fauna, such as the Bayer Kiwi Incubation Unit in Whangarei, and have established a native plant sanctuary at our East Tamaki warehouse.

ENDS

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