Colorectal cancer, private equity & more: 7 recent GI trends

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The year started strong for gastroenterology with several topics defining the specialty's first quarter. 

Here are seven recent developments in the specialty: 

1. Colorectal cancer developments take center stage. As the U.S. recognizes National Colorectal Awareness Month, several developments on the disease have taken the main stage: 

  • The American College of Gastroenterology updated its 2009 guidelines around CRC screening, making 21 recommendations. ACG emphasized the importance of screening, alternative testing, and potentially lowering the age to start CRC screening. 
  • A study published in Clinical and Experimental Gastroenterology examined CMS' colonoscopy quality measure, finding it may be inaccurate. 
  • A study published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology identified the first risk factors behind early-onset CRC screening. 
  • The COVID-19 pandemic may cause more than 10,000 people to die over the next decade due-to delayed care. 

2. Private equity starts strong. The new year has coincided with a rapid increase in PE investment in the gastroenterology space. There have been nine deals so far, but the biggest rumors have been around the potential sale of Miami-based Gastro Health. Audax is expected to sell the first platform in the space this year. 

3. Blood-based tests take a beating. Despite earning FDA approval, Epigenomics's Epi proColon, a blood-based screening test, continues to face hurdles. In January, CMS said it would not reimburse for the test, and ACG supported that decision in its recent guideline update. 

4. Other emerging trends. Several other developments occurred recently: 

  • The American Gastroenterological Association updated its clinical practice guideline on treating refractory Helicobacter pylori. 
  • The FDA approved AbbVie's biologic therapy Humira to treat moderate to severe ulcerative colitis in pediatric patients. 
  • A study published in JAMA Network Open found that automated text message reminders did not increase colonoscopy attendance or bowel preparation quality.
  • CRH Medical reached a deal to be acquired by Well Health for $369.2 million.

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