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New stroke drug improves patient outcomes and lowers cost of treatment

The new drug could help to reduce patient waiting times, as well as being very cost effective.

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According to a new study, a new generation clot-busting drug has outperformed traditional treatments for ischemic stroke in several key areas.

This new drug, tenecteplase, has shown to have better health outcomes and be available at a lower cost compared to traditional methods.

The study, led by a team of neurologists at the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas, was conducted over a 15 month period.

Steven Warath, lead author of the study says: “The Dell Med Neurology Stroke Program was one of the first in the United States to make this change.

“Based on even the earliest results from this study, other experts across the country were convinced and made the switch from alteplase to tenecteplase at their own stroke centers, including at Ascension hospitals nationwide.”

An estimated 800,000 individuals in the United States have a stroke each year. 

The majority of those strokes, estimated at 87 per cent are ischemic.

As a consequence of ischemic stroke, there can be loss of neurologic function.

Tenecteplase and alteplase have both been federally approved for use in dissolving clots in blocked heart arteries.

However, the newer drug tenecteplease is also be used by clinicians, off-label, to treat ischemic stroke.

This is because clinical trials in stroke suggest that it may be at least as effective as alteplase and it is easier to administer.

Tenecteplase is administed by a single intravenous injection, that lasts between five to ten seconds.

Researchers have compared its performance with alteplase, which is the standard drug for stroke, which is injected over 60 seconds.

Warach says: “When it comes to treating patients with a stroke, every second matters.

“The shorter preparation and injection time with tenecteplase not only eliminates a lot of dosing errors related to alteplase, but it’s also more efficient. 

“We were able to deliver the clot-busting medicine more quickly after patients arrived in the emergency department, and for patients who needed to be transferred to another hospital for more advanced care after receiving the clot buster, we were able to initiate the transfer sooner in those treated with tenecteplase.”

This study also found that patients who came into the emergency department after a stoke and received tenecteplase, their “door-to-needle” time, was on average six minutes quicker than if they were to receive alteplase.

For patients that also required thrombectomy, tenecteplase helped to speed up the process of transferring the patient to a thrombectomy capable stroke centre by 25 minutes.

Other notable improvements in clinical outcomes for patients given tenecteplase included, a 5 per cent increase in patients that were able to walk independently at time of hospital discharge to home.

They also noted a 4 per cent decrease in occurrences of events such as brain haemorrhages, discharge to hospice care or death.

The other major improvement with the use of tenecteplase, is that it is cost effective.

The researchers found that tenecteplase treatment cost the hospitals around $2,500 less than alteplase per patient.

Co-author of the study, David Paydarfar says: “If this price differential continues, the magnitude of savings could equate to in excess of $150 million every year in the U.S.

“This is a great example of value-based care—better care for less money.”

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