- Category: Press Releases
- 13 December 2011
WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--An international medical specialty society today announced support for a proposed FDA label change that would affect the use of Optison, an ultrasound contrast agent marketed by GE Healthcare for use in improving the accuracy and reliability of radiation-free imaging procedures known as "contrast-enhanced ultrasound" (CEUS).
According to the International Contrast Ultrasound Society (ICUS), the proposed label modification is supported by a significant body of research demonstrating the safety, cost-effectiveness, and potential life-saving benefits of CEUS.
The organization, which has members in 59 countries, represents cardiologists, radiologists, and other physicians and imaging professionals who use CEUS imaging.
ICUS physicians said support for the proposed label change is consistent with a Citizen Petition filed by the organization in October. The Citizen Petition cited studies showing the superior safety profile of ultrasound contrast agents, along with their favorable risk-benefit ratios, in requesting removal of boxed warnings from both ultrasound contrast agents currently approved for use in the U.S.
“Based on newer studies showing the safety and diagnostic benefits of ultrasound contrast agents, we believe the current labeling is inconsistent with FDA standards for use of boxed warnings and stands in direct opposition to the FDA’s statutory responsibility to protect the public’s health,” according to Dr. Steven Feinstein, a cardiologist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and ICUS Co-President.
“The key issue remains whether the available body of safety data warrants the most serious level of caution -- the boxed warning -- in the face of new scientific evidence,” said Dr. Feinstein. “Pursuant to the FDA’s own guidance, the answer is clear: Ultrasound contrast agents are exceedingly safe and do not warrant boxed warnings,” Feinstein added.
Ultrasound contrast agents are approved in the U.S. for cardiac imaging only. Additional non-cardiac uses of CEUS are under review by the FDA, but throughout Europe, Canada, Asia and Brazil CEUS is safely and routinely used to pinpoint cancers, monitor chronic gastro-intestinal diseases, detect vascular disease, as well as diagnose heart disease and serious medical conditions elsewhere in the body.
By improving the clarity and accuracy of an ultrasound image, CEUS can reduce the risk of a misdiagnosis or a missed diagnosis, and can reduce downstream testing that may be more costly, less safe, and less convenient to the patient than CEUS. In addition, CEUS may be useful in diagnosing the growing number of severely obese patients who often cannot be imaged with other technology.