In brief

Br J Cardiol 2020;27:18 Leave a comment
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In our in briefs this issue we cover: Tafamidis – a new treatment for amyloidosis; the NICE recommendation of patiromer for hyperkalaemia; an increase in non-industry sponsored CV trials; the news from United Cardiology – British and Irish cardiac societies; and a survey showing barriers to PCSK9 prescribing…

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Tafamidis – a new treatment for amyloidosis

The European Commission (EC) has granted marketing authorisation for tafamidis (Vyndaqel®, Pfizer), a once-daily 61 mg oral capsule, for the treatment of wild-type or hereditary transthyretin amyloidosis in adult patients with cardiomyopathy (ATTR-CM). Tafamidis is the first authorised treatment in the European Union for patients with ATTR-CM. Prior to this authorisation, treatment options for patients with ATTR-CM were restricted to symptom management, and, in rare cases, heart (or heart and liver) transplant.

ATTR-CM is a rare, under-diagnosed and life-threatening disease characterised by the build-up of abnormal deposits of misfolded protein called amyloid in the heart and is defined by restrictive cardiomyopathy and progressive heart failure. Once diagnosed, the median life expectancy in patients with ATTR-CM, dependent on sub-type, is approximately 2–3.5 years.

NICE recommends patiromer for hyperkalaemia

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published technology appraisal guidance for patiromer (Veltassa®) for treating hyperkalaemia [TA623]. 

NICE recommends patiromer as an option for treating adults with acute life-threatening hyperkalaemia and also for those with persistent hyperkalaemia with chronic kidney disease and heart failure. The full guidance is available at

Hyperkalaemia remains a persistent challenge for clinicians treating approximately four million people in the UK living with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and heart failure (HF). Traditionally, persistent hyperkalaemia has been managed by discontinuing or reducing potentially life-saving medications (RAAS inhibitors), as these can elevate potassium in the blood. The NICE recommendation gives clinicians a new option to treat these patients.

Increase in non-industry sponsored CV trials

Oncology was the top therapy area for non-industry sponsored clinical trials in 2019, making up 25.7% of all clinical trials. Central nervous system (CNS) was second with 23.5%, followed by cardiovascular (CV) with 8.9%, infectious disease (8.5%), and metabolic disorders (7.4%). Oncology, CNS, CV, and infectious disease clinical trials all showed an increase in 2019 from 2018, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

News from United Cardiology – British and Irish cardiac societies

The British Cardiovascular Society 2020 Annual conference, hailed as ‘the UKs largest and leading cardiovascular educational event’, will be held on 1st – 3rd June 2020 at Manchester Central. Further information is available at:

The Irish Cardiac Society 2020 Annual Scientific Meeting & AGM will be held on 1st – 3rd October 2020 at Radisson Hotel, Little Island, Cork, Ireland. Further details from

There are two Fellowship Posts available in Interventional Cardiology, at St. James’s Hospital, Dublin (the largest academic teaching hospital in the Republic of Ireland, enjoying strong links with Trinity College, Dublin) and the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust 2020. Supervising Consultants are Dr Simon Walsh, Dr John Cosgrave, and Dr Stephen O’Connor. Interested applicants should apply to pcilive@STJAMES.IE by closing date March 1st 2020, with a copy of your CV.

The Scottish Cardiac Society is holding its seventh ‘Interactive Cardiology Conference’ on 13th March 2020, at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow.

The programme will maintain the successful and popular interactive forum of the society, where cardiologists and all medical and allied health professionals with an interest in cardiology will have the opportunity to meet and directly interact with world class leading cardiology experts. This year’s keynote lecture will be given by cardiac surgeon and heart transplant pioneer, Sir Terence English, KBE. He performed the first successful heart transplant in the UK in 1979 and is a former President of the Royal College of Surgeons.

Further information is available at:

The Welsh Cardiovascular Society annual spring meeting will be held on 16–17th April at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Cardiff. The Henderson lecture: “Ongoing controversies in Interventional Cardiology” will be delivered by Professor Anthony Gershlick, Glenfield General Hospital and University of Leicester at 18.30pm on Thursday 16th April. Further information is available from:

Details of these and other meetings are in our on-line diary:

Survey shows barriers to PCSK9 prescribing

An online survey, carried out by Sanofi, has shown that uptake of PCSK9 inhibitors for the treatment of primary hypercholesterolaemia, has been slower than expected, concurring with the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence which has said the uptake in 2018 was 77% lower than expected which equated to around 8,880 eligible patients not receiving the treatment.

Respondents to the survey showed that there is lower interest in cholesterol management compared to acute cardiovascular events, as well as infrequent lipid testing. Furthermore, respondents highlighted that there is no clear management pathway for PCSK9 prescribing, with 63% saying primary responsibility rested with the interventional cardiologists at admission, 37% saying the non-interventional cardiologist at follow-up, 56% saying the GP was responsible for on-going management and 59% of cardiologists believing prescribing responsibility should be with lipid specialists.