Top 5 Most-Read Conference Stories of 2020

The top 5 most-read conference stories of 2020 on AJMC.com included stories about study results on the impact that new therapies are having on cardiovascular and renal health.

The dramatic impact of relatively new therapies for the heart and renal system comprised the majority of our top 5 stories from medical conferences during 2020.

Meanwhile, a video interview from a multiple sclerosis (MS) conference about how vitamin D influences the risks of developing the disease attracted many viewers.

Read on for more:

5. Patients Take Different Statins, but Vascepa Benefits Are the Same

At the 2020 Congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), updated data from the REDUCE-IT study showed that the cardiovascular benefits of taking icosapent ethyl (Vascepa) were consistent regardless of what type of statin a patient took for cholesterol. The latest data from the study demonstrated that cardiovascular benefits were similar across different statin types and across lipophilic/lipophobic categories. Investigators said that the new data can provide clinicians with additional insight when prescribing icosapent ethyl alongside statin therapy.

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4. In Heart Failure, Empagliflozin Equals the Competition and Benefits Sicker Patients

Also presented at the ESC 2020 Congress, results from study results showed that empagliflozin, a drug shown to prevent certain deaths in type 2 diabetes, works similarly to its closest competitor, dapagliflozin (Farxiga), in preventing heart failure hospitalization and renal events and slowing the process towards kidney failure in patients in heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF). The findings offered more evidence on how the drugs’ class, sodium glucose co-transporter-2 inhibitors (SGLT2), can serve as all-purpose warriors against heart failure and renal decline, while offering modest weight loss benefits. Empagliflozin met the study’s primary end point by reducing the risk of cardiovascular death or hospitalization for heart failure by 25%.

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3. Dr Kassandra Munger on Vitamin D and Multiple Sclerosis

In an interview during the 2020 ECTRIMS: European Committee for Research and Treatment in Multiple Sclerosis Kassandra Munger, ScD, of the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, discussed multiple pieces of evidence showing that deficiencies in vitamin D are linked to a greater risk of multiple sclerosis (MS). The latitude gradient associated with MS has demonstrated a higher risk of MS in people who live at high altitudes, suggesting that sun exposure is linked to development risks. Munger noted some specific studies, including animal studies, the Nurses Health Study from the early 2000s, a military study, and a maternity cohort study from Finland, that repeatedly showed that subjects who had a higher intake of vitamin D had a lower risk of MS.

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2. DAPA-CKD: Dapagliflozin Drops Risk of Renal Decline or Kidney Failure Death 39%, Even Without Diabetes

A third set of study results presented at ESC’s 2020 Congress showed that dapagliflozin reduced the risk of declining kidney function or kidney failure death by 39%. The results from the DAPA-CKD trial were comparable to the results from the April 2019 CREDENCE trial results for canagliflozin (Invokana), which found risk reduction of 30% for renal decline and cardiovascular and renal death among patients with type 2 diabetes. The main element that distinguished the DAPA-CKD trial from those before it was that a third of the patients did not have diabetes, raising the prospect that dapagliflozin could be used to prevent kidney failure in a new group of patients.

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1. Fish Oil Debate Continues as Study Finds No Risk Reduction From Omega-3 Combo

Results from the STRENGTH study showed that a treatment regimen of 2 common omega-3 fatty acids did not reduce the risk of cardiac events, directly challenging the results of the REDUCE-IT trial, which found that icosapent ethyl reduced initial cardiac events by 25% and all events by 30%. Icosapent ethyl was approved by the FDA in December 2019 as an add-on therapy to reduce cardiovascular risk. Investigators said that to resolve the discrepancy between trials, the FDA should require a postmarketing clinical trial using high doses of icosapent ethyl versus corn oil in patients at risk for cardiovascular events. However, the lead investigator of REDUCE-IT and others note that icosapent ethyl and the omega-3 fatty acid pill in STRENGTH are not the same therapy.

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