News

The New York Times set the stage for the upcoming FDA meeting that revisits GlaxoSmithKline’s diabetes drug, rosiglitazone (Avandia). The FDA said it is trying to “resolve uncertainty” about the drug, which has been limited based on concerns about heightened cardiovascular risk.   

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, FDA officials are in a tussle over angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs). Based on evidence of an increased risk in cancer, one reviewer argues for a stronger warning but his bosses aren’t convinced. They describe such action as a diversion from assessing new drug applications.

The Wall Street Journal and its broadcast arm, the News Hub, explored emerging technologies designed to improve medication adherence. The approaches include “digital pills” that include digestible sensors and pill bottles that can alert patients when it is time to take their meds or indicate when a medication has expired.

The Billings Gazette in Montana is keeping tabs on a $13.5 million expansion and renovation of surgical facilities at the Billings Clinic. The latest update includes a 3-D illustration of the cardiovascular operating room viewed from various angles.

Mechanical engineering students at Rice University in Houston developed the PediPower, a shoe-mounted generator that converts motion into energy as a power source for cardiac devices. Their initial goal was to make a generator that provided a reliable and constant source of power. The next step is to make PediPower smaller and lighter. Houston-based Cameron, which is collaborating with the Texas Heart Institute to design pumps for an artificial heart, approached the students with the project.  

Stephen Page, PhD, a licensed physical therapist, is leading a research project that uses smart phone technologies to track movement in stroke patients to determine their progress with rehabilitation. The approach relies on accelerometers, sensors in smart phones, video games and even air bags that detect motion. Page is an associate professor at the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus.

Marketing intelligence firms that serve pharmaceutical companies apply sophisticated networking and data analytics to inform their clients about the prescribing habits of physicians as well as patient behavior. “Doctors tend not to be aware of the depths to which they are being analyzed and studied by people trying to sell them drugs and other medical products,” Jerry Avorn, MD, chief of the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said in a New York Times article.

Vincent L. Gott, MD, professor emeritus at Johns Hopkins Heart & Vascular Institute in Baltimore, shares his experiences as a developer of the pacemaker in an interview with CNN. The feature is part of CNN’s “Life Works” series.

Richard Lifton, MD, PhD, chair of the genetics department at Yale University, and Jonathan R. Kaltman, MD, chief of the Heart Development and Structural Diseases Branch at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, discuss genetic causes of heart disease in a video.  Findings from the research team’s large-scale sequencing analysis of congenital heart disease were published online May 12 in Nature. 

The New York Times published a feature article that detailed a research effort to unravel the genetic underpinnings of cardiovascular disease. Members of one family with a history of heart-related deaths have agreed to participate in the study.

Michael S. Emery, MD, a cardiologist at Carolina Cardiology Consultants in Greenville, S.C., shares his experiences as a medical volunteer at the Boston Marathon in a post on the American College of Cardiology’s blog, ACC in Touch. “Even though I’m a cardiologist and not trained to handle trauma, it really was about the basics of care – stabilize and evacuate!” Emery is co-chair-elect of the American College of Cardiology’s Sports and Exercise Cardiology Section Leadership Council.

Michael J. Ackerman, MD, PhD, and Pedro J. Caraballo, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., described in a video the development of an alert system that flags QT-level prolongation that may indicate a patient is at risk of sudden cardiac death. In a paper published in the April issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, they reported the institution-wide system is a noninvasive marker of mortality. Ackerman said the next step is to determine if the alert modifies physician behavior to provide potentially lifesaving interventions.