Guideline Critics Shift Attacks From Beta Blockers To Statins Reply

With the release today of updated European and US guidelines the ongoing controversy regarding beta-blockers appears to be resolved. But that doesn’t necessarily mean there will be an outbreak of guideline peace and harmony. The critics who helped ignite the controversy over beta blockers now say new statin recommendations contained in the guidelines are based on deeply flawed evidence.

Both the new European and US guidelines say that preoperative initiation of statin therapy may be considered in patients undergoing vascular surgery and that people already taking statins should continue taking them. Now some of the same critics who attacked the reliability of the beta blocker guideline say that this recommendation is not supported by the evidence.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

 

 

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Dutch Investigation Finds Serious Flaws In Influential New England Journal Of Medicine Study Reply

Erasmus Medical Center says it has wrapped up its investigation of Don Poldermans, the disgraced cardiology researcher who was fired for research misconduct. The full extent of the misconduct has never been known, and from an examination of the Erasmus report it appears likely that it never will be known.

One major finding– though downplayed in the medical center’s press release– is that the most prestigious and influential publication from the Poldermans’ group, the 1999 publication of the DECREASE 1 study in the New England Journal of Medicine– appears to be riddled with serious problems.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

 

Medicine faculty of the Erasmus MC, taken in t...

Medicine faculty of the Erasmus MC, taken in the afternoon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

More Questions Raised About Boehringer Ingelheim’s Pradaxa 1

Once again dabigatran (Pradaxa) has raised the wrath of the critics. Several articles and an editorial published today in The BMJ raise more questions and concerns about the drug, which is the first of the new oral anticoagulants. Relying on new evidence along with previously disclosed data, Deborah Cohen, the  investigations editor for The BMJ, casts doubt on the reliability of the data supporting the drug as well as the behavior and decisions of regulatory authorities, trial investigators, and employees  of Boehringer Ingelheim, the drug’s manufacturer.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

Cleveland Clinic Once Again Tops Heart Hospital Rankings Reply

For the twentieth year in a row the Cleveland Clinic made the #1 spot on the US News & World Report‘s annual ranking of heart hospitals. The Cleveland Clinic was 4th in the overall category. For the first time the Mayo Clinic was the top hospital overall, beating long-time rivals Massachusetts General and Johns Hopkins.

As I’ve stated before, I am not a big fan of these sort of ratings. But irrational as they may be they often have enormous practical significance.

Here’s the top 20:

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FDA Once Again Reaches Conclusions At Odds With Its Own Staff Reply

Once again the FDA has reached a conclusion that is directly opposed by some of its own scientists.  Last month the FDA affirmed the safety of olmesartan, a popular blood pressure lowering drug (sold as Benicar and other names). But that reassuring view is not shared by the  FDA scientists who performed the study that provided the basis for the review. And now outside experts are also raising concerns about the drug.

Back in 2010 the FDA said that it was initiating a safety review of olmesartan due to troubling findings from 2 clinical trials that raised the possibility that patients with type 2 diabetes taking olmesartan might have an increased risk of cardiovascular death. Four years later the FDA announced  that it had completed that review.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes, including comments from Sanjay Kaul and Franz Messerli and Sripal Bangalore.

FDA Places Clinical Hold On Phase 3 Trial Of Novel Anticoagulant Reply

A highly promising novel anticoagulant system now appears to be in serious difficulty. Regado Biosciences announced today that the FDA had placed a “clinical hold” on patient enrollment and dosing in the REGULATE-PCI trial, which is testing the Revolixys anticoagulation system. Revolixys consists of the Factor IX inhibitor pegnivacogin and an agent, anivamersen, which reverses its anticoagulant effect.

REGULATE-PCI is a phase 3 trial comparing Revolixys to bivalirudin (Angiomax, The Medicines Company) in 13,000 patients undergoing PCI.

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Controversial Trial Finds No Benefit For Expensive Medicines Company Drug Reply

Although there is broad consensus in the medical community that primary PCI is the best treatment for heart attack patients when it can be delivered promptly, there is no agreement about the best accompanying drug regimen, which usually entails a combination of antiplatelet and antithrombotic drugs. The role of one antithrombotic, bivalirudin (Angiomax, The Medicines Company) has been particularly uncertain because it is far more expensive than its alternative, unfractionated heparin.

HEAT-PPCI was designed to help settle this problem.

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Merck Uses Legal Threats To Stifle Negative Advice About Zetia And Vytorin In Italy Reply

In response to repeated legal threats, a public health doctor in Italy has withdrawn advice to curtail use of a controversial drug. The drug, ezetimibe, is a key ingredient in Zetia and Vytorin, which is manufactured by Merck. The cholesterol-lowering drug has been the subject of fierce controversy because it has never been shown to improve clinical outcomes. Despite the controversy, in 2013 the drugs had combined sales of more than $2.6 billion.

MSD Italy, the Italian arm of the company, sent two “cease and desist” letters to Alberto Donzelli, who is “the head of education, appropriateness, and evidence based medicine at the public health authority of Milan (Milan Healthcare),” according to The  BMJwhich published a news report of the affair.

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More Sunshine: CMS Wants Companies To Report Payments To Physicians For Medical Education Reply

In a major reversal of policy, CMS wants industry to report payments to physicians for continuing medical education. The move would eliminate from the Physician Payment Sunshine Act the current exemption for CME.

Initially CMS’s  proposal for implementation of the Sunshine Act required industry to report payments to physicians for CME programs. But after considerable debate and lobbying from industry, the final rule included an exemption. As a result, companies are not now required to report payments to speakers at accredited CME events as long as the companies don’t select the speakers or directly pay them.

CMS now appears to have changed its mind. Near the end of its list of proposed changes for next year, CMS is proposing to eliminate the exemption:

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

ESC Hot Lines: First Real Data On Promising Novartis Heart Failure Drug Reply

The first real details about the much-anticipated novel new heart failure drug from Novartis will kick off this year’s Hot Line sessions at the annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology in Barcelona, Spain. The meeting runs from August 30 until September 3.

As I have previously reported, the PARADIGM-HF trial was stopped because of a highly statistically significant reduction in cardiovascular mortality in patients taking LCZ696 (a novel, first-in-class Angiotensin Receptor Neprilysin Inhibitor) instead of the current gold standard of treatment, an ACE inhibitor….

Here is the complete list of Hot Line trials:

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

FDA Ends Olmesartan Safety Review, But… Reply

The FDA announced on Tuesday that it had completed its safety review of the antihypertensive drug olmesartan (sold as Benicar and other names). The investigation was initiated in 2010 when results from the ROADMAP trial showed that patients with type 2 diabetes taking olmesartan had an increased risk of cardiovascular death.

Now the FDA says that it “has found no clear evidence of increased cardiovascular risks associated” with olmesartan in diabetic patients.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

 

FDA Recalls Another Batch Of Generic Metoprolol Reply

The FDA has recalled more than 13,000 bottles of metoprolol succinate extended release tablets manufactured by Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories. Two months ago the agency recalled another lot of generic metoprolol from a different company, Wockhardt. Both recalls were for medicines manufactured at facilities in India. There have been multiple reports in recent years of problems with generic drugs made in India.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

Yet Another Delay For Boston Scientific’s Watchman Device Reply

Boston Scientific hopes the third time will be the charm. The company disclosed on Tuesday yet another obstacle in the path to approval for its novel Watchman left atrial appendage closure device for the prevention of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation. Although it has already been before two FDA advisory panels, the company said that it had been informed by the FDA that it will need to undergo yet another advisory panel before gaining approval.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

Watchman_2

 

FDA Approves Second Generation Heart Valve From Edwards Lifesciences Reply

The next phase of the burgeoning and rapidly maturing transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) market has begun. Edwards Lifesciences announced on Monday afternoon that the FDA had approved its second generation Sapien XT TAVR device  for the treatment of high-risk and inoperable patients suffering from severe symptomatic aortic stenosis (AS).

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

Positive Results For New Oral Drug From Actelion Reply

Actelion has announced positive top-line results for a phase III trial of a new oral drug for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). The drug, selexipag, is a first-in-class orally available selective prostacyclin IP receptor agonist.

The pivotal, double-blind GRIPHON study was the largest outcome trial ever performed in PAH. 1,156 PAH patients were randomized to selexipag or placebo. The company said that trial had “met its primary efficacy endpoint with high statistical significance.”

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Sharp Scrutiny From European Medicines Agency Of Amgen And Servier Heart Drug Reply

There may be trouble on the horizon for ivabradine, a heart drug marketed by Servier under the brand names of Corlentor and Procoralan. The drug is widely available in Europe and elsewhere, though it is not available in the US, where it is under development by Amgen. Although it hasn’t been widely noticed– I can find no other press reports– the European Medicines Agency said that it has started a review of the drug based on troubling findings from the SIGNIFY study. (Ivabradine is used to treat patients with long-term stable angina and long-term heart failure.)

The main results of SIGNIFY are scheduled to be presented on August 31 at the European Society of Cardiology meeting in Barcelona. But on May 8 the European Medicines Agency announced that it had initiated a review of ivabradine based on  preliminary results…

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

Portrait of the Global Obesity Pandemic Reply

A new, comprehensive analysis, published in the Lancet, paints a frightening portrait of the global obesity pandemic.  Analyzing data from a wide variety of international sources, the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013 finds that from 1980 through 2013, the worldwide prevalence of overweight and obesity rose by 27.5% for adults and by 47.1% for children. The result was an absolute increase from 857 million overweight and obese people in 1980 to 2.1 billion in 2013.

For men, the proportion with a BMI of 25 or greater increased from 28.8% to 36.9%. For women, the proportion increased from 29.8% to 38.0%. Although the increase was observed in every country, the patterns were different between developed and developing countries. In developed countries, there were more men than women who were overweight or obese; in developing countries, the pattern was reversed. In 2013, nearly a quarter of children and adolescents in developed countries were overweight or obese.

The multinational team of researchers reported that the biggest gains in overweight and obesity took place between 1992 and 2002. One hint of good news: the increase in adult obesity appeared to slow starting in 2006.

FDA Approves Novel Implanted Sensor To Monitor Heart Failure Reply

The FDA announced today that it had approved the CardioMEMS Champion HF System. The small implantable device provides daily pulmonary artery pressure measurements to guide physicians in their treatment of  NYHA Class III heart failure patients who have been hospitalized for heart failure in the previous year. The system consists of three parts: a small permanent sensor implanted in the pulmonary artery, a catheter-based delivery system, and a system that acquires and processes PA pressure measurements from the implanted monitor and transfers the data to a secure database.

Click here to read the entire post on Forbes.

 

Boehringer Ingelheim Settles US Pradaxa Litigation For $650 Million Reply

Boehringer Ingelheim said today that it will pay $650 million in a “comprehensive settlement” of lawsuits over Pradaxa (dabigatran), the company’s novel anticoagulant. The company said that it expects the settlement will resolve about 4,000 current cases against the company in the US.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

The Walking Dead: Renal Denervation In Europe Just Can’t Be Stopped Reply

Earlier this year the only large, well-designed trial of renal denervation– the once highly-promising catheter-based technology that was widely expected to “cure” difficult cases of resistant hypertension– failed spectacularly. Many hypertension experts believe that ultimately the technique will prove to be beneficial, but after the failure of Simplicity HTN-3 it is clear that there’s a great deal of research that needs to be performed to find out just how– or if– this novel technology should be used.

In the US this does not present a problem. The FDA has not approved renal denervation so it can only be used in a research setting. But that is not the case in Europe, where the device is available due to lower standards for device approval.

Right now Europe’s largest interventional cardiology meeting, Euro PCR, is underway in Paris. Surprisingly– or perhaps not– renal denervation is still being heavily promoted in Europe. Here is the evidence: a series of tweets by @Jeddacath, an interventional cardiologist who trained at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston and who is attending the meeting.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

Walking Dead

Medtronic To Pay Over $1Billion To Settle Patent Litigation With Edwards Lifesciences Reply

After years of protracted and often bitter litigation in the US and abroad, Edwards Lifesciences and Medtronic today announced a broad resolution to all their patent disputes over transcatheter heart valves.

Medtronic will pay more than a billion dollars over the course of the agreement, which lasts until April 2022.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

Hospitalizations For Atrial Fibrillation Are On The Rise Reply

In recent years there has been an explosion of interest in atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common heart rhythm disorder. Although it is sometimes thought to be relatively benign, AF increases the risk of stroke if untreated. Even if treated, it can be the source of significant discomfort and can contribute to additional complications, especially when accompanied by other cardiovascular conditions. Now a new study published in Circulation finds that hospitalizations for AF are on the increase, and this may have important implications for the delivery and economics of health care in the coming years.

Researchers analyzed data  from nearly 4,000,000 hospitalizations in which AF was the primary discharge diagnosis from the years 2000 through 2010. Here are some of their key findings:

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

BMJ Names Panel Members To Review Disputed Statin Articles Reply

The BMJ has released the names of an outside expert panel who will decide the fate of two articles that are the subject of a heated dispute.

As previously reported, last week the BMJ published a correction to two papers published last year, explaining that both papers had  inaccurately overstated the incidence of the adverse effects of statins. However, a fierce critic of the papers, the head of the Cholesterol Treatment Trialists’ (CTT) Collaboration, Rory Collins, still insisted upon a full retraction. In an editorial published in BMJ, the journal’s editor-in-chief, Fiona Godlee, wrote that she was  uncertain “whether the error is sufficient for retraction, given that the incorrect statements were in each case secondary to the article’s primary focus.” As a result the BMJ has convened an outside panel of experts “with no dog in this fight.”

Iona Heath, former chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners and of The BMJ’s ethics committee, will be the chair of the panel. There are six additional members…

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

FDA Rejects Novel Novartis Drug For Acute Heart Failure Reply

Novartis said today that the FDA had issued a complete response letter for the biologics license application for RLX030. The drug, also known as serelaxin, is a recombinant form of the naturally occurring human hormone relaxin-2, which has been found to help women adjust to the cardiovascular changes that occur during pregnancy.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.