This year had its fair share of news for gastroenterology and endoscopy. Here are 13 of the biggest healthcare stories of 2016.
1. Boston Scientific buys EndoChoice Boston Scientific purchased Alpharetta, Ga.-based EndoChoice for $210 million in September. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year. EndoChoice had $75 million in sales for the 12 months end on June 30.
2. Olympus superbug and email scandal. In March, emails leaked that showed the company raised the price of its duodenoscopes after Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteria broke out at UCLA's Ronald Reagan Medical Center. The duodenoscopes were found to be the cause of the outbreaks. The scope maker offered to sell the hospital 35 new endoscopes for $1.2 million, a 28 percent increase from an earlier quote. Over the last three years Olympus has been linked to 19 superbug outbreaks in the United States and Europe.
Later in the year, more Olympus emails leaked that had internal communications where the company told U.S. executives to not communication scope-related outbreaks in other countries. Since 2013, nearly 35 patients have died from contaminated scopes that Olympus has manufactured.
3. Valeant settles kickback charge. Valeant Pharmaceuticals paid $54 million to settle a kickback charge against its Salix unit. The company paid illegal kickbacks to physicians for prescribing its products. Thousands of claims were submitted to the government as a result of the practice. A physician and four former employees brought the case against Salix, and the advocates of the scheme were dismissed from the company.
4. Joan Rivers' family settles suit with Yorkville Endoscopy. The Yorkville Endoscopy Clinic suit settled with Joan River's family. The clinic botched a procedure that led to the comedienne's death in 2014. The clinic paid out a "substantial" amount of money to Ms. Rivers' family. Ms. Rivers died at the clinic after she struggled to breathe while under sedation because of a laryngospasm which caused cardiac arrest. Yorkville Endoscopy later sued the Hartford Financial Services Group for not covering $200,000 in legal bills related to Ms. Rivers surgery.
5. Gastroenterologist murdered by son. The schizophrenic son of gastroenterologist William Wu, MD, was found guilty of stabbing him multiple times. According to his attorney's Nicholas Wu was affected by symptoms of schizophrenia. He was sent to the Oregon State Hospital in Salem. The practice will oversee his stay for up to 20 years.
6. Data breaches and cyber-crimes. An employee of Tampa, Fla.-based Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition clinic stole patient data from 13,000 patients stolen. In another case, Rhode Island-based University Gastroenterology suffered a data breach which saw patient data for 14,000 taken from a computer system.
7. Takeda begins trial for norovirus. Takeda Pharmaceuticals became the first company in the world to begin the human phase of a clinical trial to combat norovirus. Norovirus is the main cause of acute gastroenteritis. It has caused nearly 700 million cases worldwide and nearly 200,000 deaths a year.
8. Colorectal cancer. The U.S. Multi-Society Task Force issued guidelines that support the performance of postoperative colonoscopies after a cancer resection. Several physicians petitioned to lower the recommended age of CRC screenings to 50 years old to better catch colon cancer in its beginning stages.
In honor of National Colon Cancer Awareness Month Niagara Falls was illuminated blue to help draw attention to the condition. The Endoscopy Center at St. Mary in Langhorne, Pa., also dressed blue throughout the month of March to help raise awareness. News anchor Katie Couric even supported the efforts when she published a personal essay in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.
The FDA approved the first blood-based colorectal cancer screening test, the Epigenomics' Epi proColon.
9. GI physician burnout. Physician burnout continued to be a topic of concern. A report in Medscape said some 49 percent of gastroenterologists suffered from burnout with women feeling the effects of burnout at a higher rate than men. Bureaucratic tasks, the time spent at work and the increased computerization of practices were the reasons behind the increase.
10. Donald Trump's gastroenterologist, Dr. Harold Bornstein. Harold Bornstein, MD, was one of the biggest stories of 2016. He proclaimed that Mr. Trump "will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency," in a four-paragraph letter he penned in five minutes. Dr. Bornstein is board certified in gastroenterology and internal medicine. He has been the personal physician of Mr. Trump since 1980. He is affiliated with Lenox Hill Hospital but is not on the staff there. He also signed the letter as a fellow of the American College of Gastroenterology, although he hasn't been associated with the society since 1995.
11. Mergers, acquisitions and developments. The year saw plenty mergers and acquisitions. Here are some of the biggest:
- Nestle signed a $120 million deal with Seres Therapeutics to develop and commercialize healthy guy products. The deal was for the development of medications to help restore a healthy bacteriological balance in the human digestive system. Nestle also secured exclusive rights to sell Seres' treatments once they're developed.
- Allergan is planning to acquire Tobira Therapeutics GI research and development pipeline at the end of the year.
- Cantel Medical is planning to acquire Vantage Endoscopy by year end.
12. Inflammatory bowel disease research. IBD continued to be one of the most heavily researched conditions throughout the field.
- For patients of New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medicine, home infusions became a popular method for treatment. Patients who were qualified had physicians making home visits to perform maintenance infusions after they received an initial infliximab infusion at the hospital.
- The American Gastroenterological Association Research Foundation and Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A. partnered to fund independent research concerning IBD.
- A study from the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America claimed that gastroenterologists and IBD patients could benefit from nutritional care resources.
13. Digestive Disease Week Digestive Disease Week saw the debut of several new devices. Here are some takeaways from the week:
- EndoStim presented several studies concerning Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease.
- Fujifilm presented endoscopic imaging technology solutions for gastrointestinal applications at Digestive Disease Week; including its new double balloon endoscopy platform.
- EndoChoice revealed its Third Generation Fuse Full Spectrum Endoscopy System.
- Compulink Business Systems unveiled Gastroenterology Advantage.
- PENTAX Medical debuted the OPTIVISTA EPK-I7010 video processor
- GI Windows debuted its incision-less Anastomosis System.
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