Altman, Lawrence K. "Study Says $2,200 Heart Drug Is No Better Than a $76 One," New York
Times, 9 March 1990, pp. 1, A16.
Heart disease is the number one killer in the U.S., with about half of the 1.5 million heart attack
patients falling victim to the attack. Treatment of victims include the use of drugs designed to
dissolve clots. Heparin and a drug favored in the U.S., T.P.A., produced by Genentech, is
dreadfully expensive while a European favored alternative, streptokinase, is much cheaper. At a
meeting of cardiologists in Florence, an extensive study of the effectiveness of the two drugs
showed that the more expensive drug does no better than its alternative.
Of course there are limitations to any study and this one concerned only patients in Italian
Coronary Care Units. And it was not a long-term study; the effects somewhere down the pike
were left unevaluated. But these results do confirm smaller studies done in the U.S., which are
here reported to have produced similar results.
Clearly, in cases where the economics of the situation must be considered, streptokinase would
appear to be the drug of choice. However, it sometimes produces there are allergic reactions and
it is good to have alternatives around.