Heart research hits plateau

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Just in time for the American Heart Association’s annual meeting, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter John Fauber offers something of a “state of the heart” address, explaining why, after years of breakthroughs and broad progress, cardiac research has suddenly hit a plateau. The short answer seems to be that, in a crowded market with a high bar for comparative effectiveness, companies can’t just pump out any old heart-related drug and get a guaranteed blockbuster anymore.

“Cardiology is no longer low-hanging fruit,” said James Stein, a cardiologist at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. “I don’t see anything in the next five years that is going to dramatically change how we treat, other than the new blood thinners.”

Fauber pegs drugs that target genetic variation as the sector’s next growth area, but it looks like those won’t hit the market for another decade. At present, the only thing the industry can really hang its hat on is anticoagulants.

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