On July 15, 2007, in Acceleration
Since HFD began publishing at the start of 2003, we have been delighted to be able to report consistently good news in the war on cancer. Only a couple of months ago, we noted a two-year decline in cancer deaths in the US. But a WHO agency brings the sobering reminder that the good news does not extend to the substantial and growing part of the global population without access to healthcare.

We have been enthusiastic as well about developments in stents. But a new study appears to have taken the wind out of stents’ sails, by showing that they do no more good than drugs in most cases and do it at considerably greater cost, at least in their present incarnations.

Given the investment at risk here, expect some controversy. But with respect to the acceleration of innovation in cardiac and peripheral vascular care – whether with drugs, regenerative medicine, or next-generation bioabsorbable stents – our enthusiasm continues unabated. Just consider the megadollar juggernaut of next-generation stents (described here) under development.

Cancer Rate to Double Globally

Source article

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, an agency of the World Health Organization, announced in April that the number of diagnosed cancer cases will more than double globally between 2000 and 2030, primarily in poorer countries. Population growth, longer life expectancy, more smokers, and lack of access to healthcare are among the main reasons.

Just Say Yes to Drugs

Source article

Source article

A “landmark” study has revealed that as many as half a million Americans are given angioplasties to relieve chest pain, when drugs would work just as well. While angioplasty remains the best treatment for people having a heart attack or hospitalized with worsening symptoms, it should not be used merely to relieve chest pain. Only if drugs do not help should doctors consider angioplasty or bypass surgery (“which unlike angioplasty, does save lives, prevent heart attacks and give lasting chest pain relief,” notes an Associated Press article carried in the New York Times .)

Experts commented to the Associated Press that angioplasty fixes only one blockage at a time whereas drugs attack all blockages indiscriminately; that the type of blockage treated with angioplasty – severe enough to cause chest pain — is less likely to result in a heart attack than smaller blockages; and that today’s drugs are effective and much improved.

The study was funded by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, the Medical Research Council of Canada, and drug companies. Some cardiologists who routinely perform angioplasties (at a cost of roughly $40,000) are upset, one calling the study “rigged.” Nevertheless, the study shifts the argument from which type of stent to use to whether to use them at all. The drugs used in the study are almost all available in generic form.

New Stents

Source article

A new generation of drug-eluting stents under development at Boston Scientific, Medtronic, Johnson & Johnson, and Abbott Laboratories may reduce the risk of clots posed by the two stents currently on the market — Johnson & Johnson’s Cypher and Boston Scientific’s Taxus Express.

They include:

  • Medtronic Endeavor:Already on sale in 105 countries, US FDA approval anticipated in second half of 2007 


  • Abbott Xience:Sold in some overseas markets, FDA approval sought in next few months. Abbott also working on a bioabsorbable stent, at least 5 years from market 


  • Boston Scientific Promus:Private-label version of Xience 


  • Boston Scientific Taxus Liberté:Successor to Taxus Express; Submitted to FDA March 2006; sold everywhere else except Japan. 


  • Johnson & Johnson CoStar:Acquired through purchase of Conor Medsystems; is sold in Europe and parts of Asia, FDA approval sought this year. 


  • Johnson & Johnson Cypher Elite:Successor to current Cypher stent; US clinical trials start this year. 

An FDA official said it was “likely” that the agency would start requiring up to five years of post-approval studies on drug-eluting stents.


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