Roundup: Anemia drugs under assault, stem-cell trial moves forward, medical interventions and poor "quality of death," and more

Is the bell tolling for EPO? — The news keeps going from bad to worse for the wonder drugs of biotech — the anemia treatments known as ESAs or EPO, shorthand for “erythropoiesis stimulating agents” and “erythropoietin,” respectively. Earlier today, an FDA advisory panel recommended new warnings for the drugs, which stimulate the production of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, as well as fresh clinical studies on their safety. Recent studies in kidney-dialysis patients linked higher doses of ESAs to heart problems and strokes, while studies in cancer patients treated for chemotherapy-related anemia have suggested that the treatments don’t improve patient survival, and may even cut lives short — possibly by encouraging tumor growth.