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Clopidogrel's role in the management of atherosclerotic disease: a focus on acute coronary syndromes.

Recent advances in our understanding of the role of the platelet in the atherosclerotic process beyond the acute formation of arterial blood clots, such as inflammation, have highlighted the role of antiplatelet agents as being much more than just 'blood thinners.' Some of the most important cardiovascular trials performed in the last 20 years have studied antiplatelet therapies. However, despite their long history, current global health implications and proven benefit, there remain substantial gaps in our understanding as to how to best utilize the limited number of antiplatelet agents available. This article will discuss the mechanism of action of the antiplatelet class known as thienopyridines, the pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics of the thienopyridine agent clopidogrel (Plavix, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi Pharmaceuticals) as well as the literature supporting its clinical benefits and areas of ongoing research that will help clarify the optimal utilization of clopidogrel for the treatment of cardiovascular disease.

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