NYC Heart & Stroke Innovation Forum

by Victor Camlek 25 Apr 2016
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Highlights from the 2016 American Heart Association Innovation Forum, April 20, 2016

Lack of Incentive for Funding in Cardiovascular Disease Rises Challenges in the Industry

NYC Heart & Stroke Innovation event provided insight on the challenges and growth opportunities in the cardiovascular disease industry

On April 20, 2016, The American Heart Association held the NYC Heart & Stroke Innovation Forum sponsored by Biotronik and others.  The event was attended by a mix of medical, academic, financial investment and business development experts.  Although the emphasis was on innovation, the real heart of the matter (pun intended) was the fact that although Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is the number one ranked cause of death in the U.S., the disease must vie with other serious chronic conditions for needed investment dollars.  For example, it was pointed out that there appears to be greater interest and incentives among Pharmaceutical R&D to invest on immune system based therapies along with battling liquid tumors. There were also numerous mentions of the challenges gaining traction for high-promise cardio drug ENTRESTO™ and PCSK9 drugs.  It was stated here that CVD, despite its magnitude, is not the number one area for investment by Pharma. The challenge of developing an appropriate and targeted strategy needed to garner funding was the major theme throughout the day.

Another challenge mentioned involved a concern about the roles and philosophies of government agencies as this pertains to CVD research.  For example, it takes considerable time for the FDA to approve an innovative breakthrough therapy.  This point was emphasized by Larry Chinitz, MD; Professor of Medicine and Cardiac Electrophysiology at NYU Langone.  Summarizing three alternatives to drug procedures for Atrial Fibrillation that could prevent stroke, Chinitz noted it took the FDA 11 years to approve a device used for the innovative breakthrough procedure he co-developed. He noted this 30 minute minimally invasive procedure contrasts sharply with the most prescribed and affordable anticoagulant drug therapy which he described as a “rat poison” that requires numerous blood tests and could cause severe bleeding among patients.  Chinitz also noted the latest drug alternative costs thousands of dollars.  He described three procedures capable of alleviating the need for drug-based treatments.  He noted, the majority of strokes among AFib patients develop in the Left Atrial Appendage, a portion of the heart that can simply be closed off surgically without any overall impact to heart function. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways including a very brief procedure, one he has championed. 

The day was marked by episodes of great hope and great frustration.  We heard financial experts provide views on how to best gain CVD funding while hearing how difficult it is for researchers to get grants or even locate sources of appropriate grants.  We heard of breakthroughs in 3D-printing for heart transplants and a major “moonshot project” from The American Heart Association working with Verily (formerly Google Life Sciences) and AstraZeneca.  The two companies have committed a total of $75 million over five years to support "One Brave Idea from a visionary leader" to cure coronary heart disease. Meanwhile, an investment expert told the attendees the "enemy of innovation is often size and success"  However,  the major message directly from Larry Ferguson, of AstraZeneca speaking about the “brave new idea” and echoed by others throughout the day was “a new transformative approach is what's needed for One Brave Idea to succeed.” Also notable, we were told by Esther Dyson, Chairman of EDventure Holdings, that research money may not solve America’s greatest health challenge as much as investment in wellness and prevention programs influencing daily lifestyles.

One very interesting concept that evoked some discussion was that healthcare, unlike retail or other industries, is first learning about the need for value propositions and what a value proposition actually is. 

This brief one-day conference illustrated that there is no one generally accepted investment approach to battle CVD either from the clinical or financial perspective.  The mix of traditional investors and clinical experts attending the meeting clearly included the forces needed to collaborate to achieve medical success, however they are not necessarily in sync about the best way to proceed.  Moving forward the best bet for success appears to be the need to completely redefine the meaning of “value” as applied to healthcare in a pragmatic manner rather than the checklist of requirements we often see from government agencies.

If you are interested in more information on this study, please contact Kayla Belcher, Corporate Communications, at

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Comments (1)

By  klara andrian
klara, klara

15 Jun 2017 06:08
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