Clopidogrel is an antiplatelet agent, effective in inhibiting thrombus formation in arteries. It is very efficient drug for unhindered arterial circulation, where anticoagulants have minimal impact. The drug is specifically used to inhibit blood clots in the case of coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease, and cerebrovascular disease. Clopidogrel is marketed only by the following multinational pharmaceutical companies; Bristl-Myers Squibb based in New York City, USA, and Sanofi-Aventis based in Paris, France, under the trade name Plavix as 75mg oral tablets.
How to use
In order to get the most benefit from this antiplatelet agent, use the medication regularly. Clopidogrel is an oral drug, hence take it by mouth usually once daily, with or without food, or as directed by your physician. You should keep in mind to use it at the same time each day the medication is taken.
Clopidogrel prevents heart attacks and strokes in patients with heart disease, which implies persons who have recently had an heart attack or suffering from unstable angina. Moreover it is also beneficial for patients who’ve had a recent stroke, or peripheral vascular disease. The medication is also used along with aspirin, to prevent the onset of thrombosis after the placement of an intracoronary stent. Clopidogrel can also be employed as an alternative antiplatelet drug for people suffering from an intolerance to aspirin.
Pros & Cons of Clopidogrel
An important advantage in using Clopidogrel is that it does not cause serious reductions of white cells in the blood, unlike Ticlopidine(Ticlid) which is a similar drug that does induce reduction in the count. This prevents routine blood testing to determine if the white blood cell count is low.
In a large study, Clopidogrel was indeed found to be more effective than aspirin in it’s ability to reduce heart attacks. Although, when the frequency of side-effects was compared with aspirin,it was found to be similar and the instances where stomach and intestinal bleeding occurred was less with Clopidogrel.
Clopidogrel is a low-response drug and the reason for it is well known. It has a direct relation to the low concentration of the active metabolite of Clopidogrel. Clopidogrel is a prodrug which is absorbed and after absorption, it is transformed in the liver to the active metabolite. This transformation is genetically controlled, so patients with genetic abnormalities in the particular gene responsible for this transformation will have a low response to clopidogrel. There are also patients who absorb Clopidogrel less effectively which also might be genetically controlled, even these patients have lower response to the drug due to low plasma concentrations.
Usage of Clopidogrel may lead to stomach pain or a stomach upset, diarrhea, constipation, headache, dizziness , flu-like symptoms, or back/joint pains. The bleeding from a cut or injury may take longer to stop while on Clopidogrel. If these side-effects persist, then remember to notify your physician promptly, and watch out for the following symptoms: black stools, vomit that resembles coffee grounds or unusual or easy bruising, and bleeding. Other serious side effects are chest pain, swelling, depression, unusual weakness, vision changes, slurred speech,and confusion.
Serious allergic reactions to the drug such as the occurrence of severe rashes, itching, swelling,or breathing trouble should be immediately notified.
Clopidogrel is marketed worldwide as Plavix in as much as 110 countries with sales amounting to US$6.6 billion in 2009. The price of 90 Plavix(75mg) tablets fall between 50$-70$. The drug is costlier compared to Aspirin but it is widely accepted in medical circles that a new therapy is possibly bound to cost more than Aspirin. Be sure to steer clear of counterfeit Plavix which is in circulation.