Archive for September 2nd, 2008

The Mouse that Didn’t Roar

September 2nd, 2008 | No Comments | Source: NY Times, Washington Post

Much to the dismay of 100,000 people who demonstrated in Tbilisi yesterday for a strong response from the West, the EU’s four hour crisis meeting yielded no more than a wag of the finger toward Russia in response to its cake walk through Georgia last month.

Specifically, the EU warned Russia that if it doesn’t start honoring the cease fire agreement it recently signed with Georgia, the EU will cancel meetings that had been set aside to negotiate an economic partnership with Russia.

Big Vlad

Big Vlad

Talk about a mountain giving birth to a mouse! For his part, Vlad “The Impaler” Putin shuttled to Uzbekistan yesterday to announce he had signed a deal that will increase Russia’s control over Central Asian energy exports to Europe. Russia already supplies the EU with 40% of its natural gas and a third of its oil.

The US candidates for president need to stop firing spitballs at each other over who got things right on the day Russian tanks rolled into Georgia. Then, they need to start explaining how they’re going to deal with the long term challenges that this resurgent, ornery country presents.

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When Failure is a Success

September 2nd, 2008 | No Comments | Source: Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal reported today that a clinical trial known as Syntax had failed because it revealed that for a particular subset of cardiac patients, coronary artery bypass surgery was more effective than intracoronary stenting.

Syntax was not a failure. It just didn’t fulfill the aspirations of Boston Scientific, a sponsor of the study and a producer of Taxus, a high end, drug eluting stent that annually generates $1.8 billion in sales for Boston Scientific.

By design, all Syntax patients had severe or widespread blockages of their coronary arteries. Such patients represent only 5% of those receiving stents, but they generate large revenues for stent makers because they require multiple stents and repeat procedures.

Syntax investigators found that among those who received a stent, 17.8% either died or had a life-threatening event within a year following the procedure. Only 12.1% of bypass patients incurred such a fate. This difference was statistically significant.

The fallout from Syntax is that Boston Scientific and other stent makers won’t soon be gaining FDA approval to promote Taxus for use in the subset of patients involved in this study.

That may seem like a failure to the stent makers but from a patient perspective, Syntax is a success.

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