Report: hemophilia drug VII fuels controversy in U.S. 2006-11-20 08:50:33

    BEIJING, Nov. 20 (Xinhuanet) -- More than 1,000 critically wounded U.S. soldiers in Iraq, who have been injected with Recombinant Activated Factor VII, a blood-coagulating drug, could be exposed to the risk of strokes or heart attacks, even death, U.S. media reported Sunday.

    Recombinant Activated Factor VII, which is made by Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, is approved in the United States for treating forms of hemophilia that affect some 3,000 Americans. It costs 6,000 U.S. dollars a dose.

    In last December, the Food and Drug Administration warned that giving it to patients with normal blood could cause strokes and heart attacks. Its researchers published a study in January blaming 43 deaths on clots that developed after injections of Factor VII.

    However, the U.S. Army medical command considers Factor VII to be a medical breakthrough in the war, and sees the drug as an effective method to stop life-threatening bleeding.

    "When it works, it's amazing," said Col. John Holcomb, an Army trauma surgeon and the service's top adviser on combat medical care. "It's one of the most useful new tools we have."     

    "I've seen it with my own eyes," said Air Force Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bailey, a trauma surgeon deployed this summer as senior physician at the American military hospital in Balad, Iraq. "Patients who are hemorrhaging to death, they get the drug and it stops. Factor VII saves their lives."

    Yet, critics strongly disagree. "It's a completely irresponsible and inappropriate use of a very, very dangerous drug," said Dr. Jawed Fareed, director of the hemostasis and thrombosis research program at Loyola University in Chicago and a specialist in blood-clotting and blood-thinning medications.

    Moreover, doctors at military hospitals in Germany and the United States have reported unusual and sometimes fatal blood clots in soldiers evacuated from Iraq, including unexplained strokes, heart attacks and pulmonary embolisms, or blood clots in the lungs. Some have begun to suspect Factor VII, according to the media report.

    Mary Ann Hodges, an army spokeswoman, declined to comment on the report because she had not seen it.


Editor: Lin Li
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