A Good Meeting

from the annual congress of the European Society of Cardiology in Barcelona

I often hear program committee chairs from major medical meetings say that they have no idea what will be presented in late-breaker meeting reports, and generally I have no reason to doubt this. I can certainly buy that everyone is ignorant of the results when late-breaker sessions get put together and schedules arranged.

This element of serendipity makes what happened at this year’s ESC meeting especially remarkable. Two very important, practice-changing reports came back-to-back during the late breaker session last Sunday morning, August 30 (a session that the ESC calls a Hot Line).

photo by Mitchel Zoler

photo by Mitchel Zoler

First came the PLATO report on an 18,000-patient study that established the safety and efficacy of ticagrelar, a new anti-platelet drug that may largely replace clopidogrel (Plavix) and rival prasugrel (Effient) when it gets to market. Immediately following came the RE-LY study, also involving 18,000 patients and showing that the new anticoagulant drug dabigatran was safer and more effective than  the longtime mainstay warfarin.

In addition to these two blockbusters the meeting had a good share of other important, practice-changing reports on its undercard.

In the cardiovascular disease world three annual meetings dominate the landscape: the American Heart Assoc. Scientific Sessions in November, the American College of Cardiology Annual Scientific Sessions in March, and the ESC in late August/early September.  For most of the many years that I’ve covered these, the ESC was a solid meeting but clearly the lesser of the three.

Not so this year. It was a landmark meeting that will long be rembered for RE-LY, for PLATO,  and many other reports.

—Mitchel Zoler at 2 PM on Sept. 2 in Barcelona (on Twitter @mitchelzoler)

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