Tranexamic acid, a drug which can be administered as an intramuscular injection has been proven to be capable of reducing traumatic injury death rates by up to a third by experts from the UK and France.
The drug if administered within an hour, like a flu jab (intramuscularly) instead of the regular intravenous administration can induce blood clotting.
According to experts, this discovery might be advantageous in low- and middle- income nations, where the first responders to the accident scene are probably not adequately trained to set up intravenous lines.
These countries experience over 90 per cent of the world’s trauma deaths — and about 80 per cent of these death happens prior to the patient’s arrival at the hospital.
‘Intramuscular tranexamic acid is like a vaccine against trauma death,’ paper author and epidemiologist Ian Roberts of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine told the Times.
‘An urgent injection of tranexamic acid is life-saving after serious injury. but patients are not being treated fast enough,’ he added.
‘A rapid intramuscular injection given by first responders or paramedics could mean the difference between life and death.’
Tranexamic acid mostly used to stabilise trauma patients intravenously and this takes longer to set up and work.
‘At the moment in the NHS tranexamic acid is used but patients aren’t getting it quick enough. It’s most effective when given within an hour of injury, and the hours just disappear so quickly,’ Professor Roberts told the Times.
‘It takes time for the ambulance to arrive, time for paramedics to orientate themselves to what’s going on. It takes a little time to put in an intravenous line — sometimes they just say, well, let’s leave that for the hospital.’
‘This way, you can just inject it intramuscularly and forget about it.’
Professor Roberts added that every quarter-hour delay a patient faces in acquiring tranexamic acid diminishes the drug’s lifesaving ability by around 10 per cent. He also pointed out that only 3 per cent of UK trauma victims get it within one hour.
During their research, Professor Roberts and colleagues treated 30 bleeding trauma patients who had been referred at London-based hospitals.
The patients had their first dose of tranexamic acid administered intravenously and the second was administered by intramuscular injection.
The team discovered that the drug was quickly assimilated from the muscles into the patients’ bloodstream — attaining the needed level in about 15 minutes in all cases. There were no no side-effects except for some redness and swelling.
‘I think we can start using it this way immediately,’ Professor Roberts told the Times.
‘If you could just get to the scene of an injury — somebody lying on the floor by the road, or at the foot of a ladder — you just do the basics, sort out airway, breathing.’
‘Then you could very quickly give an injection of the intramuscular dose of tranexamic acid — and it’s absorbed into the blood so quickly that you get therapeutic effect really, really quickly.’
The team is also working together with the British Armed Forces to create a tranexamic acid auto-injector — which would work like an allergy sufferers’ EpiPen. This can also be administered to the wounded on battlefields.
‘A simple auto injector device that could be used by lay first responders or police officers — before the ambulance arrives — could save thousands of lives each year,’ Professor Roberts told the Times.
‘It could also be used by wounded soldiers either on themselves or a buddy.’