Monday, November 10, 2008

While You Were in New Orleans

Actually we suppose that if you were in New Orleans for the American Heart Association's scientific sessions this weekend you'll probably have caught wind of much what we're about to highlight below. But who knows--maybe you spent the whole weekend on a Bourbon Street bar crawl?

While you were eating po'boys and beignets ...

  • Earphones and pacemakers don't mix.

  • Ah, outcomes studies. Sometimes they actually work out for sponsors! New data from AstraZeneca's Jupiter study are in--the study was halted two years early because the results were so positive--and the results were very good. Published in the New England Journal of Medicine and presented at AHA, Jupiter showed that AZ's Crestor reduced deaths, heart attacks and strokes, and other measures of cardiovascular health by about 44% in less than two years in patients with already normal-to-low LDL cholesterol. Patients in Jupiter instead had high levels of the inflammatory marker high sensitivity C-reactive protein. What does this mean for the future of statin therapy? The NEJM editorializes that the study raises
    "two important questions about the primary prevention of coronary disease. Should indications for statin treatment be expanded? And how should measurements of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein be used? The relative risk reductions achieved with the use of statin therapy in JUPITER were clearly significant. However, absolute differences in risk are more clinically important than relative reductions in risk in deciding whether to recommend drug therapy, since the absolute benefits of treatment must be large enough to justify the associated risks and costs. The proportion of participants with hard cardiac events in JUPITER was reduced from 1.8% (157 of 8901 subjects) in the placebo group to 0.9% (83 of the 8901 subjects) in the rosuvastatin group; thus, 120 participants were treated for 1.9 years to prevent one event."
    Hmm, very glass half empty. Even if they're not about to advocate putting statins in the water supply there was a lot of good news in the study and according to several reports experts are saying it will affect clinical practice, even if Jupiter doesn't offer any guidance as to who should be tested for high CRP. Further Jupiter coverage at the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Reuters and Pharmalot (where Ed beats us to the blockquote).

  • Merck & Co: we're not giving up on cardiovascular R&D (WSJ Health Blog). At AHA results of its high-dose Zocor trial however were mixed.

  • Now that the NHS is allowing UK patients to 'top-up' their health coverage privately without forfeiting NHS services, insurers are stepping up to offer coverage for those non-NHS-covered expenses, reports The Times.
image by flickr user wallyg used under a creative commons license.

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