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Clopidogrel 12-month alert

More than a third of patients prescribed aspirin in combination with clopidogrel are staying on the drugs for longer than the guideline period of a year, a worrying primary care study shows.

Previous trials have shown the use of the drugs together for more than 12 months is associated with a significant risk of bleeding.

Study leader Dr Colin Simpson, research fellow at the department of general practice and primary care, University of Aberdeen, said: 'This demonstrates the need for prescribers to have access to high-quality clinical guidance, in particular for high-risk prescribing, usually in collaboration with appropriate clinical colleagues.'

The new evidence was presented at a meeting of the British Pharmacological Society and has just been published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. It showed 34.3% of patients prescribed aspirin and clopidogrel therapy for vascular disease had been on this treatment for more than a year.

Records from 61 practices in Scotland were analysed in the study, yielding 2,783 patients prescribed clopidogrel.

Dr Simpson said: 'The evidence for prolonged use of this combination may not be strong but there will always be the need for careful consideration of individual patient prescribing.'

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