Grad Student Invents Flying Ambulance Drone To Deliver Emergency Shocks Reply

Drones have been used to kill people in war zones and to spy on people. Now a sharp young  graduate student in the Netherlands has come up with an innovative new use for drones that could one day help save thousands of lives.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

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Ebola, Natural Cures, And Panic: A Rant Reply

I try to stick to writing about cardiovascular topics but it’s been hard to avoid thinking about ebola in recent weeks. Trying to take a break from the ebola insanity yesterday I turned to Facebook to find some cute cat videos. Instead, I found this, posted by an old friend, from the Organic Consumers Association:

There are natural methods proven to be effective for prevention and treatment of Ebola. But doctors refuse to explore them.

My friend simply asked her FB friends: “What do you think? Please share.”

I’m afraid I didn’t respond well:

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

Organic Ebola FB

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Paper Behind The Green Coffee Bean Diet Craze Retracted Reply

The “scientific” paper that helped ignite the green coffee bean diet craze has been retracted. The details of the retraction and the full background of the story were fully reported by Ivan Oransky on Retraction Watch.

The paper, published in Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy, purported to report the substantial weight loss findings of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study of green coffee bean extract. The article has been viewed or downloaded by more than three-quarters of a million people since its publication in January 2012.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

English: Photo of Dr.Oz at the Time 100 Gala.

English: Photo of Dr.Oz at the Time 100 Gala. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Cigna Sues Embattled HDL Laboratory For $84 Million Reply

The Cigna Health and Life Insurance company is suing Health Diagnostic Laboratory Inc. for $84 million.  As reported previously, the embattled lab company is the subject of an ongoing Federal investigation concerning kickbacks and fraudulent billing.

The charges against HDL in the suit filed last week in federal court closely echo the earlier allegations against the company.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

Previous Stories About HDL:

Doctor: You’re Going To Have A Heart Attack! Patient: Your Tests Results Are Giving Me A Heart Attack! Reply

Last month I wrote a series of articles (starting here) about HDL, a laboratory company under investigation by the DOJ for giving kickbacks to physicians who use their tests. I reported additional allegations of serious misconduct based on questionable sales, marketing, and billing practices involving unnecessary testing. In response to those articles I’ve received emails from several individuals, including a patient and a health care provider, whose stories appear to confirm and provide additional perspective about the allegations in the earlier articles.

“Your test results are giving me a heart attack!”

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

Inappropriate Heart Stress Tests May Waste Half A Billion Dollars A Year Reply

Inappropriate cardiac stress tests may cost the US healthcare system as much as half a billion dollars each year, according to a new study published in Annals of Internal Medcine.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

Nuclear medicine myocardial perfusion scan wit...

Nuclear medicine myocardial perfusion scan with Thallium-201 for the rest images (bottom rows) and Tc-Sestamibi for the stress images (top rows). The nuclear medicine myocardial perfusion scan plays a pivotal role in the noninvasive evaluation of coronary artery disease. The study not only identifies patients with coronary artery disease, it also provides overall prognostic information or overall risk of adverse cardiac events for the patient. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Medicare Reimbursement for Lung Cancer Screening Provokes Debate Reply

Although 160,000 people in the U.S. die each year from lung cancer, accounting for more than a quarter of all cancer deaths, screening for lung cancer remains controversial. Based on results from the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) in 2011, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued a B recommendation in favor of low-dose CT screening for high-risk current and former smokers. Due to a provision in the Affordable Care Act, private insurance is now mandated. More recently, the Medicare Evidence Development & Coverage Advisory Committee (MEDCAC) concluded that there is only low to intermediate confidence that “there is adequate evidence to determine if the benefits outweigh the harms.” The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is expected to issue a final decision on national coverage in 2015.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

First Drug-Coated Balloon Approved By FDA For Leg Blockages Reply

The FDA today announced that it had approved for use in the US the first drug-coated angioplasty balloon catheter to re-open blocked arteries in the thigh and knee (superficial femoral and popliteal arteries). The Lutonix 035 Drug Coated Balloon Percutaneous Transluminal Angioplasty Catheter (Lutonix DCB) is manufactured by CR Bard and has been available in Europe since 2012.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

FDA Panel Gives Cautious Endorsement To Novel Boston Scientific Device Reply

The FDA’s Circulatory System Devices advisory panel gave an extremely cautious endorsement on Wednesday to Boston Scientific’s Watchman device, a novel catheter-delivered left atrial appendage closure device for people with atrial fibrillation. They signaled that although they thought the device should be made available they also thought that there should be significant restrictions on its use.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

Novel Boston Scientific Device Headed For Another Rough FDA Panel Reply

On Wednesday Boston Scientific’s Watchman device will once again appear before the FDA’s Circulatory System Devices advisory panel.  The Watchman is a novel catheter-delivered left atrial appendage closure device which is intended to be used in place of chronic warfarin therapy to lower the risk of stroke in people with atrial fibrillation. It has been under development for more than a decade and its approval has twice been postponed by the FDA.  Briefing documents released ahead of Wednesday’s panel suggest that the third time may not be the charm for Watchman, though close FDA watchers believe the device may ultimately squeak through.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

Nissen Urges Prompt Revision Of Cardiovascular Guidelines Reply

Sparked by a new study that once again finds serious flaws in the cardiovascular risk calculator at the heart of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association cardiovascular guidelines, Steve Nissen states that “the ACC and AHA should promptly revise the guidelines to address the criticisms offered by independent authorities.” The CV risk calculator is a key component of the guidelines, since people are generally considered candidates for statins if they have a 10-year estimated risk of CV disease of 7.5% or higher according to the equations used by the calculator.

In a study published in JAMA Internal MedicineNancy Cook and Paul Ridker, analyzing data from the Women’s Health Study, offer fresh evidence that the cardiovascular risk calculator used in the ACC/AHA cholesterol guideline is flawed. They found that the predicted rate of cardiovascular disease using the guideline calculator was significantly higher than the actual observed rate in the trial. They considered and ruled out several “alternative explanations” for the discrepancy, including underascertainment of events and the increased use of statins and revascularization procedures in their population.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

Cholesterol Drugs Haunted By Ghosts Of Past, Present, And Future Reply

Cholesterol drugs, both new and old, are in the news again. There’s a lot going on now but the picture won’t really become clear until next month, when the results of a decade-old trial will finally be revealed. Briefly, here’s what’s happening:

  • Two new trials presented fresh evidence that PCSK9s, the much discussed new class of cholesterol drugs, have powerful LDL-lowering properties.
  • A new drug from Esperion, the phoenix of biotech companies, also showed promising results. The drug, ETC-1002, is a few years behind the PCSK9s in development but has some important theoretical advantages that may prove very important down the road.
  • At the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in November the results of the IMPROVE-IT trial will be presented. The results of this trial, as I have argued in the past, may have a broad if not decisive impact on the future of the PCSK9s and ETC-1002.

 …

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

Why Bad Doctors Are Like Bad Writers: The Curse Of Knowledge Reply

Steven Pinker, the Harvard psychologist and best-selling author, has a wonderful essay in the Wall Street Journal about why smart people are so often bad writers. Although the essay doesn’t touch on the subject of doctor-patient communication, every single word applies to doctors and the way they communicate (or fail to communicate) with their patients.

Here’s the core of Pinker’s argument. Read the rest of it. And if you’re a doctor and you don’t see how this is relevant to how you communicate with your patients then you need to think again.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

Click here to read the full essay by Steven Pinker in the Wall Street Journal.  

New England Journal Of Medicine Declines To Retract Papers From Disgraced Research Group 2

Like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the two New England Journal of Medicine papers by disgraced Dutch researcher Don Poldermans will never stand straight. But like the famous Tower they are also unlikely to topple anytime soon. Without attracting a lot of attention, back in August the NEJM editors decided not to retract the papers or publish an expression of concern. But they did add an “Editor’s note” to the articles referring readers to a Dutch investigation into the studies.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

The Leaning tower of Pisa

The Leaning tower of Pisa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Embattled HDL Laboratory CEO Resigns Amid Federal Investigation Reply

Tonya Mallory, the embattled President and CEO of troubled Health Diagnostics Laboratory, has resigned her positions, the company announced today. Mallory said she was leaving to help her brother start a new business. Dr. Joe McConnell, a co-founder of the company and its Chief Laboratory Officer, will succeed her. Mallory will remain on the HDL Board of Directors.

As previously reported (by the Wall Street Journal and here) the federal government is investigating HDL for giving kickbacks to physicians  who use  the company’s tests. Additional allegations suggest a broader pattern of serious misconduct based on questionable sales, marketing, and billing practices regarding unnecessary testing.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

Tonya Mallory

 

 

 

A ‘Disappeared’ Article, Finally Published, Finds A Desultory Response To Scientific Misconduct Reply

Back in January an article in the European Heart Journal raising the disturbing possibility that guidelines based on fraudulent research may have been responsible for as many as 800,000 deaths was “disappeared” from the journal’s website only minutes after being published. The journal’s editor claimed the article had not been properly peer reviewed. In its place the editors published an editorial refuting the claims of the article, though of course they were responding to an article that no one could then actually read. Now, eight months later, a revised version of the original article, by British cardiologists and gadflies Graham Cole and Darrel Francis, has finally been published. The new version raises even more disturbing questions about the potentially lethal effects of such fraudulent research not only on clinical practice but on the credibility and worth of the entire scientific enterprise.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

Cardiology Group Withdraws ‘Choosing Wisely’ Recommendation Reply

In the end it wasn’t wisdom for the ages. The American College of Cardiology said today that it was withdrawing one of its five recommendations in the “Choosing Wisely” campaign.  In 2012 the ACC recommended that heart attack patients should have only their culprit artery unblocked. It said that patients and caregivers should question whether complete revascularization of all nonculprit lesions in heart attack patients should be performed.

The original recommendation was based on non-randomized studies suggesting that treating all significantly blocked vessels in heart attack patients could be harmful. “However,” the ACC now states, “over the last two years, new science has emerged showing potential improvements for some patients in their overall outcomes as a result of complete revascularization.”

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

Amarin Says It Will Complete Cardiovascular Outcomes Trial For Its Fish Oil Pill Reply

After nearly a year of uncertainty, Amarin  announced  its commitment to complete REDUCE-IT  (Reduction of Cardiovascular Events with EPA – Intervention Trial). The trial is designed to test the effects on cardiovascular outcomes of Vascepa, the company’s high EPA omega-3 prescription fish oil product, in people with moderately elevated triglyceride levels between 200-499 mg/dL.

Last year the company said it might discontinue support of the trial, which began in 2011, after the FDA turned down the company’s application for an expanded indication for Vascepa.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

Japanese Research Scandal Involving Novartis Blood Pressure Drug Widens Reply

The Japanese scandal over research using the Novartis blockbuster hypertension drug Diovan (valsartan) continues to widen. The first major figure brought down in the scandal was Hiroaki Matsubara, a prominent cardiologist and researcher at Kyoto Prefectural University in Japan, who  resigned from his position after numerous retractions and investigations. Then last year accusations surfaced about another prominent researcher, Issei Komuro, a professor at Chiba University.

Chiba University has now completed an investigation of one of Komuro’s most important papers, the 2011 report of the Valsartan Amlodipine Randomized Trial (VART), published in Hypertension Research, which is the official journal of the Japanese Society of Hypertension.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

 

 

FDA Approves New Weight Loss Drug From Orexigen And Takeda Reply

The FDA announced today that it had approved Contrave, the long-awaited and much-disputed weight loss drug.  The drug is a combination of two drugs already approved for other indications: naltrexone hydrochloride, which is used to combat alcohol and opioid dependence, and bupropion, which is used to treat depression and seasonal affective disorder and as an aid to smoking cessation treatment. Contrave is manufactured by Orexigen and will be distributed by Takeda.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

FDA Advisory Panel Offers Cautious Support For Polypill Reply

The controversial polypill took one step closer to reaching the US market after receiving a mostly positive reception from the FDA’s Cardiovascular and Renal Drugs Advisory Committee on Wednesday. The idea for the polypill– which in this case would be composed of aspirin, a statin, and one or more blood pressure drugs– has been kicking around for more than a decade and has attracted considerable doses of support as well as skepticism.

An all-star group of cardiology leaders– including Sir Nicholas Wald, Salim Yusuf, Suzanne Oparil, Sidney Smith, and Clyde Yancy– helped provide the spoonful of sugar that helped the committee swallow the polypill. The FDA also eased the way by limiting the discussion to the use of the polypill for secondary prevention in people who have already had a MI or a stroke.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

Beyond Kickbacks: More Questions About Unnecessary Cardiovascular Tests Reply

On the front page of the Wall Street Journal today is an important story about a fast-growing company accused of giving kickbacks to physicians who order the company’s tests measuring a wide variety of cardiovascular biomarker tests. But the article leaves one major question unasked: even if the company played fully by the rules, are most of the tests medically necessary?

In their story John Carreyrou and Tom McGinty write about a government investigation into Health Diagnostic Laboratory Inc. (HDL), which was started in 2008 and had $383 million in revenue last year. HDL sells tests that measure cardiovascular biomarkers and “bundles together up to 28 tests it performs on a vial of blood, receiving Medicare payments of $1,000 or more for some bundles.”

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

Newly Elected European Society Of Cardiology President Co-Authored Hundreds Of Papers With Don Poldermans Reply

The ESC today announced that Jeroen Bax, a Dutch cardiologist, will serve as the group’s President Elect for the next two years before becoming President starting in 2016. Bax is a professor of cardiology at Leiden University Medical Center.

Bax is also known for his very close collaboration with Don Poldermans, the disgraced Dutch researcher who has been accused of significant and multiple examples of scientific misconduct.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

 

 

Early Hint At Cardiovascular Outcomes With Sanofi’s and Regeneron’s Rapidly Advancing Cholesterol Drug Reply

Amid a slew of new data demonstrating yet again that PCSK9 inhibitors lower LDL cholesterol– drastically and in a wide variety of different patient populations– data from one trial offers the first suggestion that the drugs may in fact improve cardiovascular outcomes. But the analysis, the authors cautioned, is a post-hoc analysis of a trial neither designed nor powered to study outcomes, so should be considered preliminary and speculative at best.

Four phase 3 trials with the Sanofi and Regeneron PCSK9 inhibitor alirocumab (pronounced “allee rock you mab” by Chris Cannon at a news conference) were presented today at the European Society of Cardiology meeting in Barcelona.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.

 

SIGNIFY Trial Provokes Sound And Fury Over Controversial Servier and Amgen Drug Reply

The controversial drug ivabradine just got a little more controversial. The drug, which is marketed by Servier under the brand names of Corlentor and Procoralan, is available in Europe and elsewhere and is used for the treatment of heart failure and stable angina. The drug is not available in the US, but it is under development by Amgen for a heart failure indication.

Now a very large new study presented at the European Society of Cardiology meeting in Barcelona and published simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine has found no evidence of benefit in a stable angina population and found more adverse events associated with the drug and even suggested the likelihood of harm in a very large and important trial subgroup. The findings have resulted in an investigation by the European Medicines Agency, placing a cloud over the future status of the drug.

Click here to read the full post on Forbes.