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[IP] Study finds Pfizer’s Norvasc, others to be less effective in heart cases


By Ron Winslow

Aug. 29 — Pfizer Inc.’s Norvasc is the king of blood-pressure drugs, racking
up world-wide sales of more than $3 billion last year. Now a new report
maintains that the class of medications called calcium channel blockers, which
Pfizer dominates with its Norvasc and Procardia brands, are less effective in
preventing heart attacks and congestive heart failure than other
blood-pressure pills.

         CALCIUM CHANNEL BLOCKERS are among the biggest-selling blood-pressure
medicines in the world, and scientists have debated the class’s relative risks
and benefits compared with other popular blood-pressure drugs, such as ACE
inhibitors. In a study being presented Tuesday at the European Society of
Cardiology in Amsterdam, researchers maintain that patients who take calcium
channel blockers face a 27% higher risk of heart attack and a 26% higher risk
of heart failure than patients who are on other blood-pressure pills,
including ACE inhibitors, beta blockers and diuretics.
       The results are based on a pooled analysis of nine randomized trials
that compared calcium channel blockers with at least one of the other
medicines. Patients were essentially equally successful in reducing blood
pressure, the researchers said, no matter which medicine they took.
       “The differences aren’t related to blood pressure,” said Curt D.
Furberg, a physician and professor of public health at Wake Forest University
School of Medicine. “The drugs all lower blood pressure. But clinically we
don’t know which ones to use.”

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