“Cheap and common” drug hailed as brain injury life-saver

A common drug could save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people with brain injuries, a major new study has revealed.

The finding has been published in The Lancet by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

Tranexamic acid (TXA), a drug which has been described as “cheap and widely available”, was shown to stop bleeding in the brain after an injury.

In a study of around 12,000 patients, the drug appeared to work best when given up to three hours after the head injury, significantly reducing the risk of death for many.

Likewise, the drug works best for those with mild or moderate brain injuries, while those with severe brain injuries may see little benefit.

Commenting on the study, lead researcher Haleema Shakur, from the LSHTM, said: “The results are just amazing. It’s the first trial to ever show that a [medical] treatment can reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury patients dying.

“This is the first time that we have seen a beneficial effect. It will have huge implications worldwide.”

Ms Shakur added that the drug is “widely available”, “really simple to give”, and costs just £6.20 per patient.

Welcoming the discovery, Peter McCabe, Chief Executive of brain injury charity Headway, said: “Every three minutes someone in the UK is admitted to hospital with a head injury so it is encouraging to hear the findings of this study and the potential for TXA to help people.

“While this study does not demonstrate lives will be saved following severe brain injury, we know that patients with mild to moderate brain injuries can suffer complications where TXA may be beneficial.”

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