A drug which is commonly used to treat patients following a stroke has been put under review by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) following conflicting views among medical professionals over its safety.
According to the Stroke Association, around 152,000 people suffer a stroke each year in the UK.
Eighty five percent of strokes occur when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off by a blockage – or clot – in what is called an ‘ischaemic stroke’. While strokes typically affect older people, they can strike without warning in younger people and require urgent medical treatment to remove the blockage and release the flow of blood into the brain.
Alteplase has been approved for use in the UK by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and is given to patients who have suffered a stroke to break down blood clots.
Some medical professionals have voiced concerns about whether alteplase’s efficacy in breaking down blood clots and the perceived long term outcomes for the patient outweigh the associated risks of causing bleeding in the brain – itself a potential cause of strokes.
The MHRA has announced it will set up an expert working group which will review the evidence around alteplase and report its findings early in 2015.
Linda Millband, National Practice Lead for clinical negligence Thompsons Solicitors’ Birmingham office, said: “Swift and effective action in the aftermath of a stroke can mean the difference between life and death and have a huge impact on a patient’s quality of life.
“We are pleased that the medical community’s concerns about alteplase are being taken seriously and that the balance of benefits versus risks is being reviewed.”
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