At AHA: Jury out on warfarin rivals, niacin needs to 'retire'

The onslaught of news from the American Heart Association's annual meeting continues. Major studies on Sanofi's Multaq and AstraZeneca's Crestor have made big headlines, but there are many more developments worthy of note. Here's a roundup of some of them.

  • Analysts, investors and journalists have been trying to handicap the new anti-clotting drugs challenging warfarin, but the people who really matter--cardiologists--say they're waiting for enough real data to make up their minds. The new treatments--including Boehringer Ingelheim's Pradaxa, Bayer and Johnson & Johnson's Xarelto, and Pfizer ($PFE) and Bristol-Myers Squibb's Eliquis--have their own risks and benefits, and cardiologists at the meeting told Reuters they don't yet feel equipped to determine which might prove superior. News
  • A longstanding strategy for treating heart disease may have proven unnecessary. A New England Journal of Medicine study showed niacin added to statin therapy didn't cut the risk of heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular event. In fact, adding niacin appeared to boost the risk of stroke in patients whose "bad" cholesterol was already under control. An NEJM editorial advised it's time for niacin to "retire." Story | Report

  • Two compliance studies came to different conclusions about free drugs. One concluded that patients are more likely to take their meds if they don't have to help pay for the prescriptions. "When patients pay more for services, they will use less of them," the study's lead author told the New York Times. But another study found that half of patients didn't take free meds when they were offered. "My God, we gave these people the medicines for free and only half took it," one of the study's authors told the Associated PressItem | Article
  • Boehringer's Pradaxa clot-fighter reduced the risk of stroke compared with "well-controlled warfarin" therapy in patients with atrial fibrillation and heart failure, a new sub-analysis of the Re-Ly trial found. The study pitted two different doses of the Boehringer drug against the standard warfarin therapy and found that intracranial bleeding rates were lower with both Pradaxa doses than with warfarin, regardless of the patient's heart-failure status. Piece