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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Get A Grip! Global Study Shows Grip Strength Is a Simple And Powerful Predictor Of Death

A large global study finds that grip strength is a simple, powerful, and broadly applicable test that can help predict the risk of death and cardiovascular disease. The new findings from the Prospective Urban-Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study were based on data from nearly 140,000 adults in 17 countries. The study participants had their grip strength…

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Diet Drug Study Crashes And Burns In The Wake Of Leaked Results

The ill-fated Light trial, which was supposed to examine the cardiovascular outcomes of the weight loss drug Contrave, a combination of naltrexone and bupropion marketed by Orexigen and Takeda, came to a spectacular halt today. The action was probably inevitable given the extreme controversy generated earlier this year when it became known that Orexigen had widely disseminated results from an early…

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Prominent Harvard Cardiologist Moves To Google X To Head Large Study

Here’s a clear sign of the ascending role of digital/precision/personalized medicine: a prominent cardiologist has left a top academic and clinical position in Boston to run a large, innovative study in Silicon Valley. Jessica Mega was widely perceived as a rising star at Harvard Medical School and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She has now joined Google X, Google’s research arm,…

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Secret Letter To Doctors Shows That The Amarin Lawsuit Is About Marketing, Not Free Speech

A confidential letter sent by top Amarin executives to doctors clearly demonstrates that the primary motive for the lawsuit the company filed yesterday against the FDA has far more to do with marketing than free speech. Amarin said it is suing the FDA to gain the right to disseminate information about Vascepa that would support use…

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Precision Medicine Approaches Peak Hype

No, Personalized Medicine Isn’t Going To Save $600 Billion Over 50 Years By Preventing Heart Disease The hype over personalized medicine has now reached astonishing new heights.  In an article published in the Lancet, Victor Dzau, the new president of the Institute of Medicine, and coauthors write that personalized and precision medicine (PPM) could deliver hundreds of billions of dollars worth…

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200-Year-Old Heart Drug Linked To Increased Risk Of Death

For more than 200 years physicians have been trying to figure out how and when to use the heart drug digoxin.  Although it has a narrow therapeutic window and potentially dangerous interactions with other drugs, it is endorsed by current guidelines and widely given to patients with heart failure (HF) and atrial fibrillation (AF). However, there…

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More Evidence Linking Sugared Drinks To Diabetes

A new study uncovers some potentially important new details about the association between sugared drinks and diabetes. In a paper published in Diabetologia [pdf], researchers in the UK report on a study of more than 25,000 adults. Over the course of more than 10 years of followup 847 participants went on to develop diabetes. Instead of relying on a food…

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No Benefit For A Commonly Used Cardiac Device

Once again, after decades of common use, a frequently implanted device has been found to confer no benefit whatsoever over a much less invasive therapy. Cardiologists and radiologists often implant the device, called a retrievable inferior vena cava filter, inside people who are at high risk for developing potentially lethal blood clots. The filter is designed to prevent…

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American Heart Association Cancels Baltimore Conference

The American Heart Association announced last night the cancellation of a medical conference in Baltimore due to the unrest in the city. QCOR 2015, the Quality of Care and Outcomes Research Scientific Sessions, was scheduled to be held at the Hilton Baltimore from Wednesday to Friday this week. Here is part of what the AHA said: … Click here to…

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Cardiovascular Outcomes With Merck’s Januvia: No Better Or Worse Than Conventional Care

Late Monday afternoon Merck released the top line results of TECOS, the cardiovascular outcomes trial with its blockbuster diabetes drug Januvia (sitagliptin).  The company said that the trial “achieved its primary endpoint of non-inferiority for the composite cardiovascular (CV) endpoint.” Merck announced only one additional detail: “Among secondary endpoints,” they reported, “there was no increase in hospitalization for…

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More Preliminary Signs That PCSK9 Inhibitors May Improve Outcomes

More information about the highly anticipated new cholesterol lowering drugs from Amgen and Sanofi/Regeneron emerged today. A new new analysis of available data from early trials with PCSK9 inhibitors adds to the growing evidence showing that the drugs– Amgen’s evolocumab and Sanofi’s alirocumab– dramatically lower LDL cholesterol and offers additional preliminary evidence showing that they are safe and may confer a…

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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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Medicines Company Drug Finally Gets Nod From FDA Advisory Panel

On Wednesday the FDA’s Cardiovascular and Renal Drugs Advisory Committee voted 9-2-1 to recommend approval of cangrelor during PCI to reduce the risk of periprocedural thrombotic events such as MI, stent thrombosis, and ischemia driven revascularization. … Click here to read the full post on Forbes.  …

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FDA Approves Amgen Heart Failure Drug

The FDA on Wednesday approved ivabradine (Corlanor), Amgen’s new heart failure drug. The drug has been available for several years in Europe, where it is sold by Servier under the brand names of Corlentor and Procoralan. Ivabradine was approved for the reduction of hospitalization from worsening heart failure. … Click here to read the full post on Forbes.    …

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Diabetes Drugs Get Neither Restrictions Nor Endorsements From FDA Committee

Two diabetes drugs survived a meeting of the FDA’s Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee on Tuesday. Rejecting recommendations from critics that the drugs should either be withdrawn or get new restrictions on use, the committee voted against any harsh measures, recommending only that information from two neutral clinical  trials with the drugs be added to the drugs’ labels….

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Heart Attack Risk Jumps After Divorce

A new study shows that after a divorce people have an increased lifetime risk for heart attacks (myocardial infarction). Although previous studies have found that MIs occur more frequently in people who are divorced, this is the first study to prospectively examine the lifetime relationship between divorce and MI. In a paper published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, Duke…

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Two Dirty Little Secrets About Electronic Health Records

Here are two dirty little secrets about electronic health records (EHR). Just about everyone in the field already knows these secrets, and many are quietly horrified, but few want to discuss them since there are no obvious or easy solutions.EHRs Are a Threat to Freedom of Speech and Academic Freedom … Electronic Health Records Are Not…

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DOJ Settles With Embattled Lab, Criminal Charges For Executives Still Possible

In line with reports last month, Health Diagnostic Laboratory Inc, the embattled lab company, has reached a settlement with the Department of Justice following a lengthy investigation into the company’s business practices, which include giving kickbacks to physicians and additional illegal sales, marketing, and billing practices. HDL will initially pay at least $47 million to the government. … Note to readers: I have received…

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Weight Loss Programs: Slim Evidence And Poor Results

A new study concludes that some weight loss programs may be slightly better than other programs but that in the long run none of the programs have been able to show a substantial weight loss over a sustained period. For even the best programs, an editorialist writes, “weight loss is modest and likely below patients’…

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No, You Probably Won’t Drop Dead While Exercising

Dropping dead while exercising is a common fear, especially among middle-aged men. Unfortunately there have been limited data on the precise rate of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in middle-aged people and little understanding about the medical history of the victims of SCA. Now a new study fills in some important gaps in knowledge and shows that this fear…

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Mark Cuban Should Take The Cigar Out Of His Mouth And Stop Giving Health Advice

Last night the celebrity billionaire Mark Cuban ignited a firestorm on Twitter with the following recommendation to his 2.7 million followers: 1)If you can afford to have your blood tested for everything available, do it quarterly so you have a baseline of your own personal health … Led by ProPublica health reporter Charles Ornstein, a slew of doctors, health care experts, patient advocates and…

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Global Cardiovascular Deaths Continue To Rise Despite Gains In Prevention And Treatment

Improvements in the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease haven’t been able to prevent a worldwide rise in cardiovascular deaths in a growing and aging population, according to the authors of a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Using mortality data from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013 the authors set out to “disentangle” the…

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Doctors Halt Squabbling And Agree How To Manage Hypertension In People With Blocked Arteries

There’s been a lot of drama in the hypertension field over the past few years. Initially sparked by the decision of the National Institutes of Health to end its sponsorship of national guidelines, the subsequent appearance of multiple guidelines with divergent recommendations led to even more controversy and discussion. Now, however, the appearance of a new scientific statement…

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No, An Apple A Day Won’t Keep The Doctor Away

No, an apple a day does not appear to keep the doctor away. But, a new study semi-seriously suggests, it may keep the pharmacist away. The study serves as an instructive and humorous way to look at the perpetually thorny problem of how to best understand and make use of findings from observational studies. As this new paper makes clear,…

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