"Unpredictability, too, can become monotonous."

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Justine Cadet,
News Editor

As American author and philosopher Eric Hoffer adeptly points out, if irregularity becomes commonplace, then people become numb to its effects. Many have expressed this sentiment in reponse to reports about the vast undulations in the current worldwide financial markets, and cardiovascular (CV) medical device makers and pharmaceutical companies have not been immune to these fickle trends.

Medical imaging and health IT leviathan GE performed better than market expectations, despite a 22 percent decline in profit from within its healthcare segment. Also, the company's CEO expressed optimism in these results due to "this economic environment."

GE noted that its bottom line was adversely affected by negative foreign exchange, was echoed by many cardiovascular vendors this quarter, including Merck, which booked a 56 percent drop in net income. Most of Merck's CV pharmaceutical line recorded a decline in profits, with the notable exceptions of two of their type 2 diabetes medications--Januvia and Janumet. However, the pharma giant expressed hope for growth from its $41 billion merger with Schering Plough.

However, in illustrating the current market's unpredictability, three major CV vendors performed well in the first three months of this year-- St. Jude Medical, Eli Lilly and Baxter. In particular, St. Jude posted an overall profit of 16 percent due to strong CV sales, with particularly robust showings for its atrial fibrillation, vascular closure and heart valve products. And Lilly, who just launched prasugrel in the U.K., saw a 24 percent increase in net income, propelled by strong sales of its diabetes drug Byetta.

In other news, the U.S. government is seeking healthcare reform, with better fund allocation to improve clinical outcomes. Two cardiologists argue that evidence-based reimbursement, not pay-for-performance initiatives, would improve the quality and reduce the cost of healthcare in this week's Circulation. However, it is more than likely that these discussions will take similarly unpredictable paths, requiring caregivers to remain alert through the seemingly monotonous process, as it will directly impact their daily practice.

On these topics, or any others, please feel free to contact me.

Justine Cadet, News Editor
jcadet@cardiovascularbusiness.com