Vampire Lab Turns To Old Trick To Grow Business: Physician Owned Labs

True Health Diagnostics, the new laboratory that bought the assets and adopted the business model of the disgraced and bankrupt laboratory company Health Diagnostic Laboratory (HDL), is turning to some old, unethical, and illegal tricks to grow its business. As I’ve reported previously, one key to the spectacular growth of HDL laboratory involved surreptitious bribes…

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Slow Start For ‘Blockbuster’ Heart Failure Drug Entresto

Entresto, the new heart failure drug from Novartis that is widely expected to be a blockbuster, is off to an exceptionally slow start. Approved last July, the drug, formerly known as LCZ 696, had sales of only $21 million in 2015, only $5 million of which came in the fourth quarter. Despite low expectations in the early…

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NEJM Editor Flip Flops On Data Sharing After Social Media Firestorm

After a firestorm of criticism on social media over his editorial comments,  Jeffrey Drazen, the editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, is trying to quiet a growing controversy by modifying his position regarding shared data. The firestorm was ignited by an editorial on data sharing in last week’s NEJM. Although highly supportive of…

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Why Guidelines Are Bad For Science

 Bad guidelines don’t just give bad advice. They also harm science and impede research. The new US Dietary Guidelines– which I’ve already called a recipe for disaster— are a perfect example of why we need to have fewer, shorter, and, crucially, better guidelines. Back in 2014, in response to the controversy over salt guidelines, I…

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Rat Study Links Neural Tube Defects To Lower PCSK9 Levels

(Updated) PCSK9 may play an important role in neural tube development (NTD), a new study in rats suggests. The study, published in Scientific Reports, found that PCSK9 levels were significantly reduced in rat embryos with NTDs. The main focus of the paper was to identify biomarkers that could be used for the prenatal detection of NTDs, since there are now…

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2015: The Year We Finally Cured Heart Disease!

Editor’s note: Larry was too depressed to write the 2015 yearly review. Veteran healthcare journalist and eternal optimist Candide Corn volunteered to take over the task this year. Candide’s motto is “all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.” What a great year for cardiology! The year brought us an unending…

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More Concerns Raised About Possible Risks Of New Heart Failure Drug

(Updated with an additional comment from Milton Packer) More safety concerns are being voiced about Entresto, the new, ballyhooed heart failure drug from Novartis.  Fueling these concerns is a mix of speculation, worry about the FDA’s rapid approval of the drug, and a long-running feud between two leading heart failure researchers. The concerns, raised in a JAMA Viewpoint by heart failure…

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Amgen’s Repatha Beats Out Competitor For Spot On CVS/Caremark Formulary

CVS Health announced today that Amgen’s Repatha will be the only PCSK9 inhibitor on the CVS/Caremark formulary. This gives Amgen its first big win among the pharmacy benefits managers against Sanofi’s Praluent in the battle over the market for the powerful but expensive new cholesterol-lowering drugs. Previously Express Scripts had announced that both drugs would be placed…

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A Coke, A Smile, And 120 Million Dollars

As I’ve reported in the past Coca-Cola has a long history of giving money to medical organizations and researchers. Now we know just how much. In response to a New York Times story this summer, Coke has disclosed details of its financial support to a great number and broad variety of health organizations and initiatives. Over the past five years, it…

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Bankruptcy Judge Approves Sale Of Embattled Diagnostic Lab Company

A federal bankruptcy judge has approved the sale for $37.1 million of the once high-flying Health Diagnostics Laboratory to a new lab company, True Health Diagnostics. True Health has a business model that mimic’s HDL’s and is owned by some of the same players who helped create and who owned HDL. Health Diagnostic Laboratory (HDL) was started in 2009. By 2012 the…

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Survey: Yearly Pay For Cardiologists Hits $542,000

A newly-released survey finds that compensation for cardiologists grew to $542,000 in 2014. This represents a $30,000 increase from 2013 and brings the total close to the previous high of $548,000 in 2012. The increase may reflect an over-representation of private physicians in the survey released by MedAxiom Consulting, which bills itself as the nation’s top cardiovascular service…

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Crystals, Spiritual Speed Dating, And The New York Times

Once again the New York Times has published a story that contains pseudoscientific, completely unsupported health claims without providing any critical perspective on the topic. A few weeks ago I wrote an open letter to the New York Times Public Editor about an egregious article in the Style and Fashion section about sound bath “healers.” Now the Times has once again…

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IMPROVE-IT Substudy: Ezetimibe Benefit Restricted To Diabetics

The beneficial effects of ezetimibe are found almost exclusively in  patients with diabetes, according to an update of the influential IMPROVE-IT trial presented on Sunday at the European Society of Cardiology meeting in London. The new finding may lead to questions about the widely accepted interpretation of the main finding of the trial, which is that it provided strong support for…

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ESC 2015 Set To Start In London

The European Society of Cardiology meeting starts this weekend in London.   Merrie Olde Englande?   Industry will be here too.  …

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Wow! Maybe– Finally– A Positive Diabetes Drug Outcomes Trial

Until now the best thing anyone could say for sure about all the new diabetes drugs was that at least they didn’t kill people. That’s because although these drugs have been shown to be highly effective in reducing glucose levels, a series of large cardiovascular outcomes trials failed to provide any evidence of significant clinical…

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$300 Millions Dollars Of Cardiology Sunshine

$300 million dollars. That’s how much industry paid to cardiologists and other related healthcare professionals between August 2013 and December 2014… … Click here to read my entire story on MedPage Today….

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Why The Internet Stinks– Part 1

Like many other bloggers and journalists I get a lot of unsolicited and unwanted pitches. For years I just threw them in the trash. Now I’m going to share some of these gems with the rest of you. Here’s the first installment (click to enlarge):…

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Another One Bites The Dust: On The Death Of A Social Media Site For Doctors

Like a certain late lamented parrot, CardioExchange is no more. It has ceased to be. The website was started by the New England Journal of Medicine and the Massachusetts Medical Society more than 5 years ago in the wake of the explosive and ubiquitous growth of social media. But the rise of social media also provoked tremendous uncertainty and even anxiety over its role in…

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No, Pharmascolds Are Not Worse Than The Pervasive Conflicts Of Interest They Criticize

Let’s start with a quick poll:  Which is worse? A. The pervasive influence of industry on medicine, which has undermined the independence and altruism of physicians. B. The critics of industry influence, who have created a paranoid culture of distrust which has undermined the partnership of industry and physicians that has brought medicine to its current heights. If you chose B then you are…

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Inside The Scandal: Profit And Greed At An Embattled Laboratory Company

How does a clinical laboratory company grow in a few short years from nothing to more than $400 million in revenue and over $100 million in profit? Since the same company just settled with the DOJ for as much as $100 million, it’s reasonable to suspect that growth was probably not entirely legitimate. Now new information,…

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AF Patients at Increased Risk for Silent Strokes

The increased risk of stroke in people with atrial fibrillation (AF) is well known, and this stroke risk is, of course, linked to an increased risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. Less well known is that people with AF have an increased risk for cognitive impairment independent of their stroke risk. Now a new study published…

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No Difference in Survival Found for Different Aortic Valve Prostheses

A new study published in JAMA suggests that younger patients who need aortic valve replacement (AVR) may now be more eligible to receive bioprosthetic valves. Each year about 50,000 people in the U.S. undergo AVR surgery. Older patients generally receive bioprosthetic valves because these valves are less prone to clotting and bleeding complications. Surgeons are often reluctant to…

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FDA Advisory Panel Offers Cautious Support For Polypill

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…

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Mobile Cardiovascular Screening Programs Come Under Fire

It seems like a no brainer. Cardiovascular disease is the #1 killer in the world so broad screening of the general population must be a good idea, right? Wrong, says the consumer group Public Citizen, at least when such screening is performed indiscriminately. Somewhat surprisingly, Public Citizen, which is often held at arm’s length by mainstream…

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Mixed Results for Thrombolysis in Pulmonary Embolism

The role of thrombolytic therapy for the treatment of pulmonary embolism has been unclear, as it has been difficult to measure the precise balance between enhanced clot-dissolving efficacy and greater bleeding risk produced by thrombolysis when compared with conventional anticoagulation. A new meta-analysis published in JAMA analyzed data from 16 randomized trials including 2115 patients. Overall, there…

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