NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

New Drug Effective Against Sepsis

February 12, 2001

An international research team has discovered the first drug that successfully combats sepsis, a blood infection that kills about 225,000 Americans a year. Researchers have spent about 15 years looking for a drug to fight the disease.

  • Sepsis is a bacterial infection of the bloodstream that sets off a chain of chemical reactions that leads to excessive inflammation and clotting, often causing death by destroying the patient's internal organs.
  • Much of the public has never heard of the disease, although about 750,000 cases are diagnosed each year.
  • The new drug is derived from a natural blood product called activated protein C, which curbs clotting and inflammation.

The research was carried out on 1,690 patients with severe sepsis at 164 locations in 11 countries. Half the patients took the drug intravenously, half took a placebo. Patients who took the drug had a 19 percent lesser chance of dying than the others.

Source: Gordon R. Bernard, et al., "Efficacy and Safety of Recombinant Human Activated Protein C for Severe Sepsis," New England Journal of Medicine, released Feb. 9, 2001; Associated Press, "Researchers Discoverer 'Landmark' Drug To Fight Blood Infections," Dallas Morning News, February 10, 2001.


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