August 14, 2008 - Arlington Medical Resources (AMR), a provider of market intelligence for the pharmaceutical and diagnostic imaging industries, found the usage of injectable perflutren microsphere ultrasound (micro-bubble) contrast agents, which help to evaluate heart wall motion, declined in the second quarter of 2008 to 22 percent of the usage just two years earlier.
Micro-bubble contrast agents are gas-filled microspheres injected intravenously to improve cardiac ultrasound scanning. In October 2007 the FDA placed a black box warning on ultrasound micro-bubble contrast agents after 10 deaths were reported following administration. Reports of 190 serious but nonfatal reactions were also documented.
“The effects of the black box warnings in 2007 are still being felt in the micro-bubble contrast agent market,” said Anna Fisher, an analyst at AMR. “Even after the FDA revised its warning in May 2008 allowing the agents to be used more broadly, usage still declined in the second quarter of 2008. The role of ultrasound contrast agents continues to be important in the overall echocardiography market because it enhances imaging quality for interpretation. Contrast improves visualization of the left ventricle border, helping the physician evaluate wall motion of the heart.”
The newly released edition of the U.S. Echocardiography Monthly Monitor also finds that the total number of patients undergoing echocardiographies in the U.S. had declined by 17,095 in June 2008. The total number of patients undergoing contrast enhanced echocardiography for the U.S. market also declined slightly by 2,137.
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