The American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC; Washington), publisher of Lab Tests Online, a web site for laboratory testing information, has launched a second version of the site in the United Kingdom.

The new version of Lab Tests Online is being published by the Association of Clinical Biochemists (ACB; London) under a license from AACC. The association, which is dedicated to the practice and promotion of clinical science, obtained funding for the site from The Health Foundation, an independent charity that aims to improve health and the quality of healthcare for the people of the United Kingdom.

The new AACC site, located at www.labtestsonline.org.uk, adapts the content of Lab Tests Online for the benefit of patients and families in the UK, supplementing it with original material that is of particular relevance to residents there. It is being launched with the support of the UK Ministry of Health.

The original Lab Tests Online (www.labtestsonline.org), which is targeted to the U.S. population, currently attracts more than 300,000 visitors a month. According to AACC, the site reflects a united effort by the laboratory community to educate patients about laboratory testing. AACC said Lab Tests Online is the only online resource for laboratory testing information developed by the laboratory community the people who do the testing.

It said modifications made in the UK site reflecting the Queen's English and differences in policy and practice "give the site a more local flavor."

Both editions of Lab Tests Online offer detailed information on a growing number of tests, and describe a range of conditions based on the tests used to screen, diagnose and monitor them. "Users are also able to submit questions about their lab tests and get custom responses from clinical scientists, typically within 24 to 48 hours," AACC said in its announcement of the new site. Feature articles further distinguish the site, the organization said, with topics including the meaning of reference ranges, test reliability and the universe of genetic testing.

AACC has received funding for Lab Tests Online from more than 40 corporate sponsors, led by Bayer Healthcare Diagnostics (Tarrytown, New York), Beckman Coulter (Fullerton, California), Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics (Raritan, New Jersey) and Roche Diagnostics (Indianapolis, Indiana).

Content for the U.S. site is developed in collaboration with 13 other North American laboratory associations, representing a range of disciplines. Launched in July 2001, the original site served its 5 millionth visitor earlier this year. An AACC survey resulted in more than 80% of users of the U.S. site saying they would recommend the site to others.

Trial cites benefits of Diovan

Novartis (Basel, Switzerland) reported at last month's European Meeting on Hypertension the results of the Valsartan Antihypertensive Long-term Use Evaluation (VALUE) trial, a randomized, active-controlled study conducted at 934 clinical sites in 31 countries. The company described VALUE as a study of a Diovan-based regimen vs. an amlodipine-based regimen in 15,245 high blood pressure patients at risk for cardiovascular complications because of co-existing diseases or risk factors such as diabetes, history of stroke and coronary artery disease.

Diovan is a Novartis antihypertensive agent indicated for treatment of high blood pressure. It may be used over a dose range of 80 mg to 320 mg daily and, according to the company, is one of the most widely prescribed antihypertensive agents worldwide. Diovan is the only drug in its class indicated to treat heart failure in patients who are intolerant of ACE inhibitors.

The company said the VALUE results suggested potential new benefits in lowering the incidence of new-onset diabetes with Diovan in hypertensive patients at high cardiovascular risk. The Diovan-based regimen was associated with a reduction in new onset of diabetes by 23% vs. the amlodipine-based regimen (13.1% or 690 cases vs. 16.4% or 845 cases). "Since hypertension regimens studied in previous trials may increase the risk of diabetes, and as amlodipine is considered to be neutral on glucose metabolism, this finding in VALUE is especially significant at a time when the prevalence of the condition continues to increase throughout the developed world," said Stevo Julius, ScD, professor of internal medicine and physiology at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, Michigan) and lead investigator in the VALUE trial.

Novartis said there was "no statistically significant difference with respect to the incidence of the primary endpoint of cardiac mortality and morbidity between the two treatment groups," at 10.6% (810 patients) for the Diovan-based regimen vs. 10.4% (789 patients) for the amlodipine-based regimen, no statistically significant difference between the regimens in death from heart attack (0.86% or 66 deaths vs. 0.84% or 64 deaths, respectively), and no statistically significant difference between the regimens in all-cause death (11.0% or 841 deaths vs. 10.8% or 818 deaths).