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
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
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.