A generic drug used to save lives of our soldiers oversees is getting little attention in U.S. hospitals, where it might save even more lives.
The drug, Tranexamic acid, is made by Pfizer in injectable form and by many generic companies in other forms. It has gotten heavy use in Iraq and Afghanistan for stanching bleeding. The drug is believed to block plasmin, an enzyme that dissolves blood clots. Yet, although it has a cheap price tag, it has had a slow entry into American emergency rooms.
It is estimated that 6 million people die each year of trauma, 400,000 of them in hospitals. But, a study published earlier this month in BMC Emergency Medicine estimated that wider use of tranexamic acid could save up to 128,000 of those people a year, including 4,000 in the U.S. alone.
If it works so well, and is relatively cheap, why is it not being used more? Apparently the answer is that because there is so little profit in it, the companies that make it do not promote it much.
The drug is slowly working its way into being adopted into hospitals in New York and other major cities as they are debating adding it to their pharmacies.
Pfizer, which makes an injectable form for hemophiliacs, declined to give sales figures or even discuss administering it to trauma patients because the Food and Drug Administration has not approved that use.