FDA: Heartburn drugs interfere with Plavix

LOS ANGELES Extreme complications from Type 1 diabetes and renal failure put 55-year-old Danny Parr in the hospital. But medical exams revealed he also has significant coronary artery disease, so he's concerned.

"Heart care is supreme, it is number one," said Parr.

His doctors want to prescribe the blood thinning drug Plavix, but there's a hitch. Danny takes Nexium for chronic acid reflux, and now the FDA is warning drugs like Nexium, Prilosec and Tagamet may make Plavix less effective.

Health officials are now urging the makers of Plavix to put that information on the label.

"If Plavix is adversely affected by any of these agents, the risk of closure of that vessel suddenly is a possibility with a risk of recurrent heart attack and potentially death," said Dr. Steven Burstein, an interventional cardiologist from Good Samaritan Hospital.

But Dr. Burstein says the data on how proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec affect Plavix is not definitive. At Good Samaritan Hospital he's going to recommend Plavix patients with acute heart disease discontinue proton pump inhibitors, but he suggests to other patients who take Plavix to have a conversation with their doctor.

"If somebody has stable coronary artery disease overall or had a stent placed four or five years ago, and you are on Plavix for overall general prophylaxis and you are not in the acute phase of your illness, I would feel more comfortable using a proton pump inhibitor," said Dr. Burstein.

Parr says he'll do whatever his doctors tell him.

"I certainly trust those around me to keep me informed and to help me make the best decision," said Parr.

Plavix often causes heartburn, which is why so many people take both types of medications. If you have concerns about taking Plavix and Prilosec or Nexium, ask your doctor about another class of heartburn drugs, like Zantac or Mylanta.

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