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Side Effects of Clopidogrel (Plavix)


Description: Plavix (clopidogrel) is a drug that prevents platelets from sticking together, ostensibly to prevent blood clotting. Plavix is prescribed to prevent heart attacks in persons with heart disease (recent heart attacks), blood circulation disease (peripheral vascular disease), and recent stroke. Anti-platelet drugs like Plavix may be prescribed for other circulatory conditions such as unstable angina or hardening of the arteries. It is also used with aspirin to treat new or worsening chest pain (unstable angina) and to prevent blood clots and keep blood vessels open after specific procedures such as a placement of a cardiac stent.

Plavix Black Box Warning and Serious Side Effects

The main concern with Plavix usage is the fact that it can cause bleeding which can sometimes lead to death, according to the Plavix drug label. For this reason, the FDA has issued Black Box Warning for Plavix. Call your health care professional immediately if you see:

  • Blood in urine
  • Red or black stools
  • Unexpected bleeding that lasts a long time

The FDA also announced a Black Box Warning on Plavix on March 12, 2010, as the estimated 2–14% of the US population who have low levels of the “CYP2C19” liver enzyme needed to activate clopidogrel may not get the full effect. Additionally, Plavix at normal doses in genetically susceptible patients are at high risk serious side effects with sudden onset, including hemorrhage and stroke.

Common Side Effects of Plavix

According to the Plavix drug label, common reactions include:

  • Nose bleeds
  • Brusing
  • Headaches
  • Itching

Less Common Side Effects of Plavix

Rare adverse reactions, according to the Plavix drug label include:

  • Headache
  • Eye problems
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever

Understand Your Risks with the Rxight® Genetic Test

Your risk for side effects from drugs like clopidogrel is partly determined by your genetics. The Rxight® CLIA-certified pharmacogenetic test is based on the sequencing of 18 genes (including those involved in the metabolism of statins) to establish how you are likely to respond to more than 200 medications.

The Rxight® genetic test measures your individual gene sequence variation that encodes the enzymes in the liver responsible for medication metabolism, and specifically analyzes CYP2C19 for the metabolism of Plavix along with hundreds of other prescription medications and over-the-counter (OTC) products across dozens of clinically significant medication classes. This genetic testing thus provides a blueprint your genetic disposition to adverse drug reactions, or inefficacy.

With one simple cheek swab of your DNA by a participating pharmacist with expertise in pharmacogenetic (PGx) testing, we will analyze 18 crucial genes involved in processing pharmacological agents – providing a detailed report that we will review with you so you can share it with your prescriber(s) and find the safest, most effective dose for you. This reduces the time involved in the traditional trial-and-error approach that is used by many prescribers, the related and often significant expense and unnecessary suffering – and potentially fatal complications from side effects.

Contributors to this Article:
Michael Sapko, MD, PhD; and Deborah Kallick, PhD, Medicinal Chemistry

Read more about Rxight® pharmacogenetics