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BiDil: Profits Up For Racist Medication? December 1, 2006

Posted by C.A.R.D in African Americans, African-American, Black, Blacks, Card, Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination, Discriminate, Discrimination, medicine, Racism, racism and discrimination, Racist.
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It would seem profits are up for a company called NitroMed Inc. If you have never heard of NitroMed Inc., they are the company behind the medicine ‘BiDil.’ The following is the information about their profits:

Total revenue for the three-month period ended September 30, 2006 was $3.4 million compared to $1.5 million for the same period in 2005, an increase of $1.9 million. Total revenue for the nine-month period ended September 30, 2006 was $8.6 million compared to $2.3 million for the same period in 2005, an increase of $6.3 million. Net sales of BiDil(R) (isosorbide dinitrate/hydralazine hydrochloride) accounted for all of the Company’s revenue during the first nine months of 2006, and $1.1 million of the Company’s revenue during the three and nine-month periods ended September 30, 2005. License fees accounted for the remainder of the Company’s revenue during the first nine months of 2005. (Link)

BiDil from their website describes the medication as:

BiDil is a prescription medicine for the treatment of heart failure in self-identified black patients who are already being treated with standard therapy. It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in June 2005. (Link)

The medication is of course not racist by itself, it either treats people or it does not, however, the BiDil website describes a ‘Unique Clinical Trial” that was conducted, which is exactly what it was. The clinical trial only included members from one race:

“My criticism of the African-American Heart Failure Study is that they only studied African-Americans,” he [Dr. Joshua Hare, a cardiologist at the Johns Hopkins University Medical Center] said. “To really test the hypothesis is to study both populations and then show, aha, the African-Americans did respond better. They didn’t do that.”

New York Times: U.S. to Review Heart Drug Intended for One Race

 

The question of racism is raised when the BiDil clinical trial was so successful that it was stopped early because of the positive results:

The FDA based the approval of BiDil primarily on results from the African American Heart Failure Trial (A-HeFT), which was halted early, in July 2004, due to the significant survival benefit seen with BiDil. (Link)

Therefore, the question remains, has BiDil been marketed in a racist manner by NitroMed Inc.?

Many physicians contend that BiDil will work in other races, too. Indeed, Wall Street’s enthusiasm is partly due to BiDil’s expected “off label” use in other patients. Once a drug is approved, doctors can use it any way they see fit.

“I don’t believe for a second that this drug combination is only going to prove to be beneficial in African-Americans; it’s just not conceivable,” said Dr. Joshua Hare, a cardiologist at the Johns Hopkins University Medical Center.

Dr. Hare, who supports approval of BiDil, says that any contention that the drug works better in blacks than others remains an untested hypothesis, because NitroMed did not do the broader studies. Link

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