UK doctors have discovered that a cheap and widely available drug could save hundreds of thousands of lives each year if it was routinely given to people brought into hospitals with head injuries. The drug is called Tranexamic acid, and it apparently helps stop the bleeding in and around the brain when blood vessels have been torn. It cannot undo the damage, but it can stop a smaller bleed becoming worse.
In a large international study published in The Lancet, some 12,000 head-injury patients were given the drug while others were given a dummy injection or placebo. The researchers found that it can greatly improve patient survival rates if given early enough.
Dr. Nicola Magrini, a representative of the World Health Organization, said it would carefully evaluate the findings and consider whether to add tranexamic acid for head injuries to its Essential Medicines List – drugs it considers important enough to be made widely available to patients across the world.