Thursday, February 19, 2009

More Customer No-Service

There was recent post on the Track Your Plaque Member Forum about hand-held body-fat analyzers that piqued my interest. I wondered if they really work. So, I attempted to contact the company in question. Their on-site customer service e-mail form did not work so I went "under the hood" of their website (it's great to know these tricks) to get the internal e-mail address (which they do not publish) used by the form so I could send it myself. Here is what I sent.

Your website contact form did not work – it kept asking to supply a “referrer” for which I saw no field to enter. Here is my question

What is the difference in technology and accuracy of your products that offer "two point" versus 'full body" sensing. I’d like to understand the technical difference before I select which of your fat analyzer products to buy.


I got this curious reponse.

Dear Mr. Hearthawk:

Thank you for the email this morning and the opportunity to address this issue with you. I am happy to assist you in getting this situation resolved.

I certainly apologize for the issue you describe in your email. Unfortunately, there are some issues that need more intervention than email provides and I believe this is one of them, simply in the interest of time for you. In order to best serve you, please call our Consumer Support team, toll-free at 800-634-4350. Our trained representatives are available Monday through Friday, 830a to 430p CST to assist you over the phone and try to resolve your issue without sending your unit in for repair. If repair is necessary, we can set up your file to start the process or provide valuable options to your particular situation.

Please have the following information available in order to expedite your call:

1. Model number (from the sticker on the back/bottom of the unit)
2. Serial number (from the sticker on the back/bottom of the unit)
3. Proof of purchase
4. Your case number of 1205305

We appreciate your interest in our products, thank you for contacting Omron Healthcare and look forward to hearing from you soon.

Jennifer Kelly Customer
Service Representative
Consumer Support
Omron Healthcare, Inc.

Ahhhh, this e-mail is so obtuse in so many ways.

1. I did not send the e-mail "this morning." I sent it weeks earlier.
2. I did not have any complaint. I asked a simple question. What are they apologizing for?
3. I do not own any Omron products. I trying to determine whether the hand-held model would serve my purposes.
4. Aren't they even a tiny bit interested in why their customer support form doesn't work?

I did call the representative who agreed that neither the hand-held or foot-scale models would be accurate given they only measure half your body. They suggested that for accuracy you buy their more expensive model with both foot and hand sensors.

Brilliant! They were late, clearly never read my e-mail, droned on in a non-repsonsive way, never bothered to inquire about their non-functional web-form. All the hallmarks of a company who pretty much doesn't give a damn about their customers.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

A CETP Phoenix Rising from the Ashes of Torcetrapib?

Gene investigation and pharmaceutical research may be working together to revive cholesterol ester transfer protein (CETP) inhibition as a means of combating heart disease. The failure (both therapeutic and financial) of Pfizer's novel CETP inhibition agent "torcetrapib" literally pushed Pfizer off the heart drug development cliff and with it perhaps the finest heart drug research team in existence.

But recently, the Women's Genome Health Study led by Dr. Paul M Ridker has discovered variants in the gene for CETP that impact heart attack risk. They note that the risk is partially but not completely reduced by a rise in HDL. Torcetrapib was found to raise blood pressure (BP) along with other adverse effects such as effects on aldosterone. It was thought that these effects overwhelmed the postive effect of raising HDL. This new study raises the hope that the negative effects were only peculiar to torcetrapib but not other similar agents.

Merck's anacetrapib and Roche's dalcetrapib are two potentional CETP inhibitors in Phase 2 and Phase 3 trials repectiviely that do not exhibit the toxic effects found with torcetrapib. Dr. John Kastelein, who is involved with both trials added, "When you have a number of patients in different clinical studies and there is still doubt about whether the mechanism works at all, research such as this by Ridker et al is good . . . torcetrapib was about the worst choice Pfizer could have made. They thought a few millimeters of mercury were nothing compared with the immense power of a 70% increase in HDL-C. But everyone was lulled to sleep—no one understood at the time that the elevation of blood pressure was only the tip of the iceberg and below that was a whole metabolic derangement that was extremely harmful."

The Women's Genome Health study was divided into two parts. First, they looked for common genetic variants associatied with HDL. Baseline HDL was measured among the 18,245 particpants (caucasion females at or above 45 years of age) who were followed for ten years. They discovered nine locations in the genome with at least one genetic variant or SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) that were associated with HDL. Eight of these locations were already known to influence HDL, but one was new.

The second and most important part of the work found that among all the SNPs associated with raising HDL, all those linked to lowering heart attack risk were found on the CETP gene sequence. Whenever a CETP SNP raised HDL it also reduced heart attack risk. One such CETP SNP (rs708272) was associated with a 3.2 mg/dL increase in HDL and a 24% lower risk of heart attack. Such as small HDL increase should not produce such a profiund reduction in risk. Something else is clearly going on!

Perhaps this is not the end of the line for CETP agents that some had predicted. The Phoenix may be rising!

Looking out for your heart health,


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