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Cardiologists are leaving GPs in the dark by failing to provide sufficient information or advice on the use of expensive anti-platelet treatments, a new study concludes.

When initiating clopidogrel in secondary care only 17 per cent of cardiologists provided GPs with any advice on how long to continue the drug.

And in a fifth of the 432 cases studied, no information was provided on why clopidogrel was prescribed rather than aspirin, despite it costing 200 times as much.

The researchers initiated the study in response to spiralling use of clopidogrel and presented the results at the recent International Society for Pharmaco-Epidemiology conference in Bordeaux.

Author Mr Richard Lowrie, lead primary care pharmacist at NHS Greater Glasgow, said it was worrying that cardiologists were not providing reasons for using the drug and complained at a lack of local prescribing advice.

NICE has advised use of clopidogrel for up to 12 months in acute coronary syndromes, with advice on treating occlusive vascular events in aspirin-intolerant patients expected in November.

But Dr John Pittard, a board member of the Primary Care Cardiovascular Society, said: 'I would leave everyone on clopidogrel, rather than stop it after 12 months, just because that's how far the evidence goes.

'Doctors need the courage to look at the data and use that to make treatment decisions,' he added.

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