AstraZeneca has presented long-awaited, long-term data for its blood thinner Brilinta (ticagrelor), showing that the drug cut the risk of cardiovascular death, heart attack or stroke by around 16%, with an acceptable bleeding risk.

The drug giant said results of its Phase III trial show that, after three years’ treatment with Brilinta, rates of CV death, MI or stroke were 7.85% in the 90mg arm, 7.77% in the 60mg arm, and 9.04% in the placebo arm.

On the safety front, the 21,000-patient trial did show higher bleeding rates compared to placebo (2.60%, 2.30% and 1.06%, respectively,) although the risk is generally considered to be outweighed by the benefits of the drug. In any case, the rates of fatal bleeding or intracranial haemorrhage “were low and similar between treatment arms”, AZ noted.

Brilinta is already on the market to reduce the rate of thrombotic CV events in patients with certain heart conditions. The firm is now seeking approval on both sides of the Atlantic for the drug’s long-term use in higher risk patients with a history of a heart attack, which could help to significantly boost its sales.