While the gay blood ban continues to exacerbate the blood shortage, a new drug may reduce the need for blood donors, or at least conserve blood bank reserves. A study published in The Lancet called CRASH-2 shows that tranexamic acid, a very cost-effective drug, can prolong the duration of blood clots and possibly save the lives of accident victims who might otherwise bleed to death. Worldwide, over 2 million people die each year from trauma of various types, usually involving blood loss.

Initially, ACSH staffers were skeptical. ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan noted, They are trying to induce a clot, but we usually think of clotting as a bad thing, such as when clots cause strokes and heart attacks.

However, in trauma and surgery clotting is a good thing. If we administer a safe drug that will reduce blood loss by better managing clot formation, it would save a significant number of people, ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross adds.

Given blood shortages, especially in the developing world, and the difficulty in developing an effective blood substitute, perhaps the lesson to be learned, according to ACSH's Jeff Stier, is that right now, it is more important to reduce demand for blood such as from hemorrhaging rather than increase supply.

The accompanying editorial commentary is authored by Dr. Jerrold Levy, the deputy chair for research at Emory University School of Medicine, who also wrote the ACSH report on blood substitutes (hemoglobin-based oxygen carriers).