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New directions for cardiovascular medicine


Heart disease is the number one cause of death in developed countries (over 700 000 deaths annually in the USA, 256 per 100 000 population).

Worldwide, heart disease kills 15 million people a year and more than half of these deaths occur in the developing world. Today's Lancet presents six randomised controlled trials of drug interventions in heart disease, with three accompanying commentaries.

All the data were presented last week at the European Society of Cardiology congress in Vienna, Austria. Such drug therapies, inevitably expensive, may well benefit patients with access to them. This week's Lancet editorial (p 753) highlights good news from the Aug 30 agreement by the World Trade Organization (WTO), where the decision was made to now allow poor countries to import low-cost generic drugs.

A previous WTO declaration had been taken as being limited to infectious diseases. "A heart patient in a poor nation has just as much right to effective drug treatment as does a patient with malaria, tuberculosis, or AIDS", says the editorial.


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