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Blood clot drug "could save lives"

Experts claim that up to 70,000 lives a year could be saved around the world by a cheap blood-clotting drug being trialled on soldiers wounded in Afghanistan.

A team from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine led by Professor Ian Roberts reviewed the results of clinical trials involving more than 20,000 patients and found that tranexamic acid (TXA), which helps clotting and reduces excessive bleeding, cuts the risk of death in patients with severe bleeding by about 10%.

Professor Roberts has also been working closely with the Ministry of Defence to examine how the drug, which is normally used to treat heavy periods and cuts the need for a blood transfusion during surgery, could be used to save the lives of injured servicemen and women.

"Given the high quality of evidence for the benefits of this drug, we recommend it be used more widely in injury victims with bleeding," he said.

"TXA reduces the risk of a patient bleeding to death following an injury and appears to have few side-effects. It could save lives in both civilian and military settings."

Professor Roberts called for better promotion of the drug in NHS hospitals, and said he believed that most doctors would be interested to hear about the results of the clinical trials even if they were unaware they had taken place.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine