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Nov 18, 2013

New smarter Medtronic pacemaker may cut future heart damage: study

DALLAS (Reuters) – A new generation of Medtronic Inc’s EnRhythm pacemaker programmed to kick in only when heart rhythm disturbances are detected led to fewer deaths, hospitalizations and incidences of developing permanent heart problems than traditional versions of the device, according to data from a study.

The enhanced pacing strategy had its most profound effect in cutting the risk of developing permanent atrial fibrillation – a dangerously irregular heartbeat – by 61 percent over the traditional pacemakers.

Nov 18, 2013

Pradaxa antidote works fast, completely in small trial

Dallas, Nov 18 (Reuters) – An experimental antidote to the
widely used blood clot preventer Pradaxa worked immediately and
completely in an early-stage trial among healthy volunteers,
raising hopes that the drug’s blood-thinning effects can be
reversed in emergency situations.

“These are absolutely exciting findings,” said Dr. Stephan
Glund, a research executive of privately held Boehringer
Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, the German drugmaker that developed
Pradaxa and is testing the antidote.

Nov 17, 2013

New effort launched to personalize medicine in heart treatment

Dallas, Nov 17 (Reuters) – Cardiologists are taking aim at
treating and preventing heart disease, the world’s No. 1 killer,
with a more personalized approach under a new research
collaboration that will marry data with the evolving
understanding of genetics.

The effort, being billed as Heart Studies v2.0 and which was
announced on Sunday, will be a collaboration of the American
Heart Association (AHA) along with Boston University and the
University of Mississippi, which oversee ongoing landmark
population studies, the Framingham Heart Study and the Jackson
Heart Study, respectively.

Nov 17, 2013

Childhood cancer survivors face heart risks soon after treatment

DALLAS (Reuters) – Children who survive cancer treatment face increased heart health risk and should take measures soon after life-saving therapy to reduce the risk of serious problems later in life, according to research presented at a major medical meeting.

The five-year survival rate from childhood cancer has soared from 58 percent in 1975 to 1977, to 83 percent in the period from 2003 to 2009.

Nov 13, 2013

U.S. FDA approves J&J, Pharmacyclics lymphoma drug

Nov 13 (Reuters) – U.S. health regulators on Wednesday
approved a drug to treat a rare and aggressive form of
non-Hodgkin lymphoma developed by Johnson & Johnson and
Pharmacyclics Inc, becoming the second drug that had
received the FDA’s new breakthrough therapy designation to gain
approval.

The drug, to be sold under the brand name Imbruvica, and
known chemically as ibrutinib, was approved to treat mantle cell
lymphoma in patients who have received prior treatment with at
least one other medicine, such as Celgene Corp’s
Revlimid. It works by inhibiting an enzyme needed by the cancer
to multiply and spread.

Nov 12, 2013

New U.S. heart guidelines back stronger therapies for high-risk patients

Nov 12 (Reuters) – New U.S. guidelines on heart health that
were a decade in the making recommend stronger measures for
patients at particularly high risk of heart attack or stroke,
including more aggressive therapy with drugs that lower
cholesterol or even weight loss surgery.

The guidelines issued by two leading U.S. medical
organizations on Tuesday are likely to be followed by
cardiologists and primary care physicians, as well as influence
insurance coverage.

Nov 12, 2013

New heart guidelines back stronger therapies for high risk patients

By Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – New U.S. guidelines on heart health that were a decade in the making recommend stronger measures for patients at particularly high risk of heart attack or stroke, including more aggressive therapy with drugs that lower cholesterol or even bariatric weight loss surgery.

The guidelines issued by two leading U.S. medical organizations on Tuesday are likely to be followed by cardiologists and primary care physicians, as well as influence insurance coverage. They still emphasize a healthy diet and exercise as keys to avoiding the No. 1 killer in the country.

Nov 7, 2013

New Roche leukemia drug shows clear advantage over Rituxan-study

Nov 7 (Reuters) – Roche’s newly approved leukemia
drug Gazyva helped patients live nearly a year longer without
the disease worsening than the drugmaker’s top-selling Rituxan
in a head-to-head trial that should help fend off competition
from cheaper versions of the older medicine.

Gazyva, previously known as GA101, was approved in the
United States last week as an initial treatment for patients
with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, or CLL, one of the most
common forms of blood cancer. It is awaiting approval decisions
in Europe and other markets.

Nov 2, 2013

Bristol seeks Japan approval of all-oral hepatitis C treatment

By Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – Bristol-Myers Squibb Co has filed with Japanese health regulators seeking approval of its experimental all-oral combination of hepatitis C treatments, the U.S. drugmaker said on Saturday.

The submission with Japan’s Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices Agency marks the first time that any drugmaker has filed for approval of a hepatitis C treatment regimen that does not include either of the standard older treatments – the injected, difficult-to-tolerate interferon, or ribavirin, a pill.

Nov 2, 2013

High cure rates seen with Merck oral hepatitis drugs: study

By Bill Berkrot

(Reuters) – A combination of two oral hepatitis C treatments developed by Merck & Co led to high cure rates in previously untreated patients, indicating the company is a contender in the race to find new treatments for the liver destroying virus.

The treatments tested with and without the older drug ribavirin led to cure rates of 96 percent to 100 percent, according to interim data from a small midstage clinical trial.

    • About Bill

      "Based in New York, I primarily cover the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors as well as other publicly traded companies involved in health care. Previously covered a wide range of sports for Reuters."
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