- The American College of Cardiology (ACC) on Monday said it's canceling its annual Scientific Session meeting as worries grow over the U.S. spread of the novel coronavirus. Abbott, Edwards Lifesciences and Medtronic were among the medtechs slated to present on mitral valve repair, transcatheter aortic valve replacement, and renal denervation technologies, among other devices, at the Chicago gathering March 28-30.
- "With an ever-increasing number of ACC members on the frontlines of preparing and reacting to the COVID-19 outbreak, we believe it is in the best interest of everyone to cancel the meeting and ensure our members are able to do what they do best – help and heal," the organization wrote in Monday's statement.
- ACC told participants it's working on details for "virtual plans" for disseminating elements of the conference's program, and "will be in contact with presenters and journals with more information in the coming days."
ACC played a significant role in key medtech markets in 2019. The March presentation of clinical trial data on use of Edwards' and Medtronic's TAVR devices in low-risk patients wowed the field, setting the stage for a summertime FDA approval of both companies' products in the aortic stenosis patient population at low-risk for open surgery. Last year's event also offered an early look into the Apple Heart Study's examination of an irregular pulse notification feature in the Apple Watch.
But as more cases of COVID-19 were confirmed across the U.S. over the weekend, ACC pulled the plug on its 2020 event, citing recommendations from CDC, WHO, and state and local governments, along with an increasing number of travel advisories, that all pointed to foregoing the gathering.
"This is a first for us," organizers wrote. "We have never not held an Annual Scientific Session live and in person in the last 69 years."
In the lead up to Monday morning's announcement, numerous cardiologists on Twitter had criticized ACC's failure to cancel the event. ACC organizers ultimately gave further notice to participants than some recently canceled healthcare conferences. HIMSS was supposed to be bringing together tens of thousands of people in the health IT field in Orlando this week, but organizers made the last-minute call Thursday to cancel the event to help avert the virus' spread.
ACC 2020's scheduled late breaking trials and presentations included results from a pivotal study of Medtronic's renal denervation technology, data from Medtronic on TAVR in low-risk individuals with severe bicuspid aortic valve stenosis, 2-year outcomes from Edwards' PARTNER 3 trial presented last year, as well as real-world outcomes with Abbott's MitraClip device in patients with primary mitral regurgitation.
ACC is still sorting out next steps, and said in Monday's statement that "all embargoes and planned simultaneous publications remain as scheduled."
A Medtronic spokesperson told MedTech Dive the company is waiting for further guidance from ACC.
U.S. regulators continue to try to increase capacity to test people for the virus.
On Saturday, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn discussed the "dynamic and constantly evolving situation" in a White House press briefing, saying the agency had received more than 100 requests for an emergency use authorization template since Jan. 22, and 36 firms had sought FDA's assistance with developing and validating tests to take through the EUA process. "We are talking to them around the clock, and our door is open for any developers who want to have a test for use in the U.S."
Hahn also said Saturday that since FDA opted to allow lab developed tests to screen for coronavirus prior to receiving an EUA, the agency had heard from seven labs, four of which had already begun patient testing.
House hearings on CDC and FDA's 2021 budget requests are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, with several coronavirus-related hearings scheduled in the House and Senate throughout the week.
Throughout the most recent earnings season, a number of medtechs referenced coronavirus as a risk to 2020 financial performance, either due to impact to supply chains or the cancelation of elective surgeries.
Radiation oncology technology maker Varian Medical Systems issued a standalone press release Monday stating the outbreak "will negatively impact the company's operating results."
"Across the company's Asia-Pacific geographies, healthcare resources are being prioritized for the treatment and management of the outbreak. Consequently, the company is experiencing delays in hardware and software installations and acceptance, as well as in the delivery of interventional oncology procedures," Varian wrote in the update.