Heart doctors at the Cleveland Clinic have voted unanimously to curtail or even ban the clinic's use of Johnson & Johnson's Natrecor after two recent medical journal studies linked the heart failure treatment to an increase in kidney problems and death rates among patients.
A final decision is in the hands of a clinic committee expected to review data at a meeting today, a New York Times report said.
Opposition to Natrecor's use could be a serious blow to Johnson & Johnson. Last December, the clinic took the lead in banning Pfizer's Bextra – months before the FDA asked for the drug to be withdrawn from the market because of heart risks.
J&J spokesman Mark Wolfe said in the Times report that his company would not speculate on the results of the clinic's committee review.
"From our perspective, Natrecor is highly effective and has a positive risk-benefit ratio when used in patients with acutely decompensated heart failure," he said.
While J&J's policy is not to release sales figures for Natrecor, analysts predicted sales of the drug could top $600 million this year and eventually reach blockbuster status.
J&J last week announced it agreed with the FDA to revise labeling for Natrecor to include data showing a slight increase of risk of death within 30 days for patients using the drug, compared with patients taking placebo or alternative treatments.