In my end is my beginning.
Justine Cadet,
News Editor
As 2008 comes to a close, the seemingly illogical sentiment of T.S. Eliot applies to the retrospective and prospective nature of this week’s cardiovascular (CV) news. Financial analyses, regulatory recommendations and 2009 projections released offer an overview of the current state of CV care and potential barriers to improved care in the coming year.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality released a report which found that the cost to U.S. hospitals for treating heart attacks, opening clogged arteries and caring for other CV conditions was $57.9 billion in 2006. Yet, on a positive note, the annual growth in costs for these conditions slowed to less than 2 percent between 2003 and 2006, which the agency attributed to a slight decline in heart disease cases and slower increases in the cost per case—a potential positive sign for the future.

Bringing to end the long-standing controversy, the FDA issued guidelines that require type 2 diabetes drug manufacturers to provide evidence that their therapy will not increase the risk of CV events, such as heart attacks. The recommendation is part of a new guidance for industry that applies to all diabetes drugs currently under development.

The controversial medication—Avandia—remains on the market amid continuing debate. The FDA has said that such drugs will have to clear a higher bar in the future, which will make it more challenging and costly for the current diabetes drugs in the pipeline.

Meanwhile, PricewaterhouseCoopers issued its annual report on the top nine health industry hurdles for the upcoming year. Among the 2009 healthcare concerns are the economic downturn, increasing pay-for-performance stipulations for hospitals and the ICD-10 code set conversion.

While the new year will bring a new presidential administration, it was revealed this week that it also will herald new hierarchy within the FDA, as Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach announced his January resignation.

In reflection, it is clear that the news that emerged at the end of this year is a teaser to what will be relevant in the coming year for cardiovascular care and business.

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

Justine Cadet, News Editor