Tag Archives: american heart association

Heart research hits plateau

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.

ACCME reverses stand on industry presentations

The Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education has released new guidance that will allow industry scientists to present “product-related research at for-credit talks” as long as “provider controls ensure they have zero control over the content.”

Covering Health readers might remember that John Fauber of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently reported on policy changes that would not allow industry representatives to make presentations at the American Health Association’s annual meeting and would likely block them from presentations to other medical associations.

Fauber reports the changes come after the ACCME said that “some accredited providers have an intensive process of peer review that ensures importance, accuracy, and validity and, therefore, the restriction was not needed.”

Marc Iskowitz of Medical Marketing and Media reports that the “guidance means other accredited providers, many of whom have been struggling with the same issue when planning meetings, can include new science that mentions therapeutic options or interventions.”

COI policy change has medical associations talking

A policy intended to reduce conflicts of interest in continuing medical education will take effect at the American Heart Association’s annual Scientific Sessions in November: Pharmaceutical industry employees will not be allowed to make medical education presentations at the event.

John Fauber of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the change comes as the result of  “a relatively new interpretation on a policy of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, the national body that accredits medical education courses.” Such presentations can be used to boost the marketing of new drugs, according to James Stein, a cardiologist and professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

Clyde W. Yancy, president of the American Heart Association, explains the new policy.

Clyde W. Yancy, president of the American Heart Association, explains the new policy.

The policy came up at a meeting at the National Institutes of Health last week, where Keith Yamamoto, executive vice dean of the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, called it “bloodcurdling.”

Fauber quotes people on both sides of the issue, including a former editors of JAMA and NEJM, as well as critics of industry funding of medical education.

Clyde W. Yancy, M.D., president of the AHA, was at the NIH meeting and expressed “consternation” about the policy and was hoping to get support from others in the room to appeal the ACCME’s decision. He points out that the AHA’s event is the first major medical meeting at which these policies will be in place but that other organizations will have to deal with the changes to remain accredited by the ACCME.

Video of the meeting is online and the relevant proceedings start at about the 108 minute mark. It’s well worth watching to see the reactions in the room.

Study advocates evidence-based medical guidelines

In USA Today, Steve Sternberg covers a study which found that guidelines used to treat cardiac patients are often not based on conclusive research.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that the use of evidence-based medicine has improved patient care,” says Sidney Smith of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, an author of the study and an expert on medical guidelines. “The trouble is, we need more evidence.”

The study’s authors, Sternberg said, advocate a strong scientific basis for every health-care decision. The American Heart Association, he reports, is starting a “Get with the Guidelines” program to encourage evidence-based treatment.

“Doctors say the study highlights a disturbing lack of scientific evidence underlying complex treatment questions, including how much aspirin to prescribe for heart attack prevention, how best to treat heart valve disease and when to choose angioplasty over bypass surgery.

Research shows that patients do best when doctors follow guidelines based on scientific evidence. This push for evidence-based medicine has come to define a new era in medical care, one in which doctors and hospitals are judged on their performance — and their grade depends partly on how true they are to medical guidelines.”