The Wall Street Journal took a gander at the number of "aspirin resistance" papers in the last few years and found some peculiar trends. Namely, that there's been a lot of talk all the sudden about aspirin resistance.
For my fellow non-health care practitioners, aspirin resistance basically means aspirin doesn't lower your blood pressure or prevent clotting like it should, and therefore you must need some other expensive prescription medication.
A dozen papers were published in 2002 alone examining this condition, and many more have followed. Besides confusion over the correct way to identify patients with aspirin resistance, researchers don't know if these people can actually be helped by other medications either. And most experts agree that the number of people with such resistance is quite small.
The pharmaceutical industry doesn't see it that way, and has seized the opportunity to promote sales of prescription products like Plavix along with the tests that measure aspirin resistance. Their efforts, propelled by publicization in medical and trade journals, are working. Producers of laboratory tests that measure aspirin resistance have seen their sales grow in double digits. And Medicare ordered 43,000 such tests, twice as many as it did only two years ago.
Aspirin resistance could be potentially devastating for those it affects, and heart surgery and hospitalization is certainly much more expensive than these tests. But a doubling of tests for this rare condition in two years is troubling, and points to physician pressuring (and caving), non-disclosure of conflicts of interest, and plain old improper focus of research dollars (see my previous post for a better location).