Dr. Cohn is a heart specialist at the University of Minnesota. Cohn's studies, conducted during the 1970s, on vasodilation--relaxing of the blood vessels--led to the patenting of the BiDil, a cardiac medication proven effective in the treatment of heart failure for African-Americans. While the issue of a medication's efficacy being linked to a particular racial group is controversial, Dr. Cohn's studies suggest a scientific basis for the drug's success with African-American patients.
The approval of BiDil was based in part on the results of the African-American Heart Failure Trial, A-HeFT. The study, which involved 1,050 self-identified black patients with severe heart failure who had already been treated with the best available therapy, was conducted because two previous trials in the general population of severe heart failure patients found no benefit, but suggested a benefit of BiDil in black patients.
"The approval of a drug to treat severe heart failure in self-identified black population is a striking example of how a treatment can benefit some patients even if it does not help all patients," said Dr. Robert Temple, FDA Associate Director of Medical Policy. The information presented to the FDA clearly showed that blacks suffering from heart failure will now have an additional safe and effective option for treating their condition. In the future, we hope to discover characteristics that identify people of any race who might be helped by BiDil.
~Marilyn Chiat, Minneapolis, MN