Time For Cardiologists To Start Prescribing Diabetes Drugs?

There’s an emerging consensus that now may be the time for cardiologists to start thinking seriously about prescribing diabetes drugs. Until now most cardiologists have not considered this to be part of their job description. But now new data from large cardiovascular outcome trials (CVOTs) shows that these drugs may one day become, like statins and…

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The American Heart Association’s Strong Stance Against Science

Once again the American Heart Association has taken a strong stance against science. Of course, that’s not how the AHA phrases it. In its own words the AHA says it “strongly refutes the findings” of a “flawed study” which “you shouldn’t use… to inform yourself about how you’re going to eat.” But in fact the…

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Study Suggests Salt Restriction Only Beneficial In People With Hypertension

–More questions raised about broad efforts to restrict salt; AHA condemns study A large new analysis offers more evidence that broad salt restriction doesn’t benefit most people and may even harm some people. The study did find that salt restriction may be beneficial to the minority of people with high blood pressure who also consume…

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On Road To Bankruptcy A Stent Company Invested in Marty Leon’s VC Fund

More questions are being raised about the research and financial activities of Palmaz Scientific, the bankrupt medical device company founded by Julio Palmaz, the co-inventor of the stent. In the middle of severe financial troubles that eventually brought the company to  bankruptcy Palmaz Scientific found enough money to invest in a venture capital fund. The VC Fund,…

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Experts Foresee Major Role For Generic Crestor

— Finally there’s a challenger to the long reign of Lipitor The FDA approval on Friday of the first generic version of Crestor (rosuvastatin calcium) marks the end of an era and the beginning of a major shift in cardiovascular medicine. Over time, as the price of the drug drops with generic competition, it seems…

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FDA Adds Heart Failure Warning To Saxagliptin and Alogliptin Labels

The FDA said on Tuesday that it was adding new warning to the labels of diabetes drugs containing the  saxagliptin and alogliptin. The FDA said the drugs “may increase the risk of heart failure, particularly in patients who already have heart or kidney disease.” The announcement comes two years after an FDA panel recommended that…

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How Many People Really Have Familial Hypercholesterolemia– And Does It Matter?

A new study estimates that about 834,000 adults in the US have genetically high cholesterol levels, otherwise known as familial hypercholesterolemia (FH). The prevalence of FH, which the authors calculate as 1 in 250 American adults, is twice the size of earlier assumptions. But the authors acknowledge that the criteria for FH used in their…

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Studies Spotlight Role Of Triglycerides, Put HDL In The Background

Two new studies provide more evidence tilting the balance in favor of triglycerides rather than HDL playing a causative role in cardiovascular disease. But it is still too early to know whether the findings of any of the studies will point to useful new methods to prevent and treat disease. In the first study, published…

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The Door Opens Wider For Drug Companies To Make Off-Label Claims

The FDA has finally reached a settlement in its long dispute with Amarin Corporation, manufacturer of the prescription fish oil product Vascepa. Last year a US judge ruled against the FDA.  The settlement brings an end to the litigation and will permit Amarin to promote off-label usage of Vascepa as long as its statements are…

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Best Selling Smartphone Blood Pressure App Gave Wrong Results

A best-selling smartphone app that purported to measure blood pressure actually delivered highly inaccurate results, according to a research letter in JAMA Internal Medicine.  The finding could cause genuine medical harm for the large number of people who use the app. In addition, the study adds new fuel to the fiery debate about the reliability…

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Slow Down. Don’t Sprint To More Aggressive BP Treatment

Two editorialists in Annals of Internal Medicine urge caution in interpreting and adopting the findings of the SPRINT (Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial), which last year  showed a benefit for a more aggressive approach to blood pressure therapy. The trial found improved outcomes in  high risk patients treated to a target of of 120 mm…

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

(Updated) 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…

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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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