Healthcare, Digital Marketing and Market Access Strategy - John G. Baresky
A new era of medicine is days away
Effective July 1st, patients, many healthcare provider organizations and payers will enter a new age of information sharing as the CMS Interoperabilty and Patient Access Final Rule takes effect.
It represents new opportunities and challenges that will reshape the healthcare industry for years to come.
A wide array of healthcare programs are impacted by the new interoperability requirements
CMS is requiring these payers/programs to align with their new standards:
- Children’s Health Insurance Plans (CHIP)
The exceptions to these are:
- Free-standing pharmacy benefit programs
- Medicare cost plans
- Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)
Specific plans featured on federally exchanges for dental care and small business health options program exchanges.
Information sharing is an integral element of healthcare
- Patients and consumers should have access to this information so they better understand their personal well-being and make informed healthcare decisions
- As the use of technology grows in healthcare, the volume of information gathered through various means is greater than ever
- Based on advancements in medicine, the types of information collected grows diversity and complexity
- Electronic health record (EHR) platforms proficiently have become vastly sophisticated in how they collect, organize and retain patient data
- The enormous quantities of data compiled requires significant protection for privacy and security
- Enhanced information sharing can help patients, providers and payers better orchestrate acute and chronic healthcare issues that will lead to better outcomes at less cost
- As medicine and technology advance, the standards and processes involved will change as well
- Many rural and remote areas of the U.S. do not have reliable Internet access and this includes mobile
- The term "healthcare interoperability" will be lost to many and how it benefits them will be an even further reach
- Health literacy is another mainstay issue; consumers and patients need to have a certain degree of knowledge or where to access support so that they can comprehend their own healthcare data
- The importance of privacy and security when it comes to healthcare records must be fully understood
- Consumers and patient must have knowledge of how and when to use their healthcare data and/or ask questions it
FDA approves Aduhelm: the beginning of a new healthcare and pharmaceutical industry controversy involving Alzheimer's
The FDA approved Biogen's (NASDAQ: BIIB) new drug Aduhelm on June 7, 2021. It is the first new Alzheimer's drug in about 20 years. Aduhelm's approval has triggered controversy and hope for patients, medical professionals, research organizations and payers across the healthcare industry.
These are some of the other primary treatment options available to treat Alzheimer's leading up to Aduhelm's approval:
- Aricept (donepezil) - Eisai and Pfizer
- Exelon (rivastigmine) - Novartis (now available as a generic)
- Namenda (memantine) - Allergan (now part of AbbVie)
- Namzaric (donepezil and memantine) - AbbVie
- Razadyne (galantamine) - Janssen - Johnson & Johnson (now available as a generic)
Each of these are viable therapies but ultimately fall short of the goals that medical professionals have to prevent Alzheimer's plus stop or reverse its progression.
The news of Biogen's approval has reinvigorated global interest in Alzheimer's even as the COVID-19 pandemic holds the main stage as it continues to unfold in new directions worldwide.
The controversy behind Aduhelm
Several issues are aligned with Aduhelm from the start. They include:
- The FDA issued Biogen a wide indication within its approval; Aduhelm can be prescribed at almost any phase within an Alzheimer's patient's diagnosis
- Biogen's ballpark price for an annual course of Aduhelm therapy is $50,000
- The clinical data submitted by Biogen to the FDA for Aduhelm's approval is deemed to be inadequate by some who believe there was not enough conclusive evidence to prove the product had clear therapeutic value
All of these considerations and more are contributing to clinical, financial and regulatory debate across the U.S. and worldwide healthcare industry.
The hope behind Aduhelm
Alzheimer's has globally challenged patients, medical professionals, clinical research organizations and the pharmaceutical industry for decades.
About 6 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's among at least 50 million people worldwide who are estimated to be affected by it.
Progress towards effective treatment and a cure for Alzheimer's has been a lengthy process. Aduhelm's approval does have positive aspects:
- Biogen is required to provide extensive additional patient data to the FDA in order for the agency to uphold Aduhelm's approval status and its indication
- Clinicians and Biogen will be scrutinizing Aduhelm patient outcomes closely and building not only more knowledge about the drug but also the patients it is administered to
- Aduhelm is new; once it is prescribed to a greater number of patients its short and long term performance and efficacy will be established
- As new products are being developed for Alzheimer's (such as Eli Lilly's donanemab), they and Aduhelm will be able to further demonstrate their individual treatment attributes and potentially serve as building blocks for future therapies and/or as co-therapies to augment each other's efficacy
Let's continue to put Aduhelm under the microscope and learn from its performance. It is not an inexpensive lesson to gain experience and knowledge from but it is a building block.
Healthcare professionals, clinical research organizations and the pharmaceutical industry have started with nothing before and together have developed an incredible array of new drugs, vaccines, gene therapies and other mission-critical patient care treatment options over decades and centuries of work.
Let's be positive that the Alzheimer's drugs produced 20 years ago and Aduhelm are pivotal steps forward in the development of decisively effective and safe therapies yet to come.
Medical and pharmaceutical research vaccine achievements
Over numerous decades, the medical professional community and healthcare industry researchers have made extraordinary progress in controlling individual and widespread disease outbreaks through the development of vaccines.
These immunizations have safeguarded the health of millions while avoiding enormous expenses well beyond the cost of their development.
Vaccines have played a pivotal role in disease prevention. The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an onslaught of intellectual, financial and technical investment in vaccine development not only for SARS-CoV-2 but for other healthcare threats as well.
This is a list of breakthrough vaccines we now have:
- Haemophilus Influenzae Type B (Hib)
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Japanese encephalitis
- Meningococcal B
- Pneumococcal disease
- Whooping cough
- Yellow fever
BRIGHTER OUTLOOK FOR CONSUMERS AFTER RECEIVING COVID-19 VACCINATION
The latest survey data from Walgreens based on 1,500 patients receiving a COVID-19 vaccination reveals a strong, positive trend that will hopefully encourage more persons to get vaccinated as soon as possible:
- 73% of those had a more positive mental health outlook than what they experienced at the start of the pandemic
- 67% of the patients participating in the survey believed the COVID-19 vaccination will improve their physical health
- 64% of the survey respondents felt relief after receiving it
- 86% of respondents felt more positive about getting together with family and friends
- 75% of respondents were looking forward to dining out
NATIONWIDE STATISTICAL SURVEY MODEL
The survey was designed to nationally represent Americans 18 years of age or older that had received 1 or 2 doses of a 2-dose vaccine from (Moderna or Pfizer) or the single dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson.
WALGREENS: A LEADER IN THE FIGHT AGAINST COVID-19
Based in Deerfield, Illinois (a Chicago suburb), Walgreens (NASDAQ: WBA) is a global leader in pharmacy services and patient care with more than 9,200 stores and a 28% share of ownership in AmerisourceBergen (NYSE: ABC), one of the world's largest healthcare wholesalers.
The company continues to be at the forefront in the battle against COVID-19 with in-store patient testing and immunization services across the country --plus it is providing offsite vaccination administration at nursing homes, various employer locations and community events nationwide.
DECLINE IN U.S. BIRTHS REFLECTS GLOBAL TREND
- Dialysis Providers - Nephrology Care
- Government Healthcare Agencies
- Healthcare Advertising and Marketing Agencies
- Pharmacy: Retail, Mail, Compounding, Specialty
- Skilled Nursing Facilities - Long Term Care
2021 has already cleared the first quarter as the global COVID-19 pandemic progresses and the healthcare industry continues its transformation towards the new normal.
Patients, Clinicians, Healthcare Provider Organizations Plus
Commercial And Government Payers Are Embracing Telehealth
The pandemic has accelerated the uptake of telehealth across the nation. Medical,
behavioral health and other patient care is being effectively administred to thousands
of patients. Use of telehealth is being deployed across metropolitan, suburban, rural
and remote areas across the United States.
Telehealth was already steadily increasing in use prior to the pandemic and as the
pandemic progressed use of telehealth escalated due to shelter-in place and
social distancing measures.
telehealth into their covered services to support consumers and patients plus
reimburse clinicians for care that is provided through virtual means.
Telehealth has become a defined patient care and business
segment in the healthcare industry.
As its acceptance grows and continues to demonstrates positive patient outcomes,
more technology innovators and business interests enter the space.
Numerous mergers and acquisitions are occurring as well as new and established
organizations seek to scale up their operations and revenue streams quickly.
This is a list of the leading telehealth enterprises which includes medical and
behavioral health service providers and technology platforms:
- AbleTo (acquired by UnitedHealth Group – Optum)
- Doctor on Demand (merged with Grand Rounds)
- Grand Rounds
- K Health
- LiveHealth Online
- Livongo (acquired by Teladoc)
- MDLive (acquired by Cigna)
- Vida Health
- Vivify Health (acquire by UnitedHealth Group)
Amazon is also building up its capabilties to care for its employees and their dependents plus those of other companies through its Amazon Care business unit.
While some medical and mental healthcare virtual sessions will transition back to in-patient appointments as the pandemic hopefully subsides, virtual healthcare venues will continue to provide a large portion of care for patients throughout the nation.
Clinical and technical innovation will continue to transform the telehealth (or telemedicine) healthcare industry sector and cultivate even more commercial opportunities for a variety of business enterprises.
New Gallup and Hologic venture will establish a valuable worldwide women's healthcare resource
Hologic (NASDAQ: HOLX) and Gallup, Inc. are collaborating to build a global women’s healthcare information and database resource. The two organizations call their new initiative the Hologic Global Women’s Health Index.
The new index is well established based on a variety of data and marketplace insights
The project is already underway. One of its initial phases included issuing and evaluating a survey that generated approximately 120,000 responses from individuals in 116 nations that encompassed cultures speaking 40 languages.
The beginning topics and key data insights include:
- Access to healthcare
- Domestic violence
- Early detection of disease and illnesses
- Reproductive health
Two established and respected leaders join forces to measure, promote and improve Women's Healthcare on a worldwide basis
Privately held, Gallup was founded in 1935 and is headquartered in Washington, D.C.; it is one of the most well known and respected data analytics and consulting firms in the world. Over 90% of the Fortune 500 utilize their data resources and published management insights.
Based in Marlborough, Massachusetts, Hologic was started in 1985. It generated more than $3.7 billion in annual sales during 2020. Hologic offers an array of healthcare products and services that span breast health, diagnostics, gynecology surgery solutions and skeletal healthcare.
The new and growing trove of data that Hologic will cultivate and share will serve numerous stakeholders including:
- Academic and medical researchers
- Consumers and patients
- Government healthcare interests
- Healthcare provider organizations and medical professionals
- Healthcare product manufacturers and service companies
- Healthcare insurance, managed care organizations and other payers
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)
- Global Women's Health Initiative (GWHI)
- International Women's Health Coalition (IWHC)
- National Women's Health Network (NWHN)
- Society for Women's Health Research (SWHR)
- U.S. Health And Human Services (HHS) Office On Women's Health (OASH)
- Women In Global Health (WIGH)
- World Health Organization (WHO) - Women's Health
Eating disorders have been clinically recognized for decades; the quest for preventative care and better patient support continues
The federal government has designated 2/22 through 2/28 as National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. This annual event has been observed for over 30 years. It is officially recognized to generate awareness of and promote action towards the need for more eating disorder research and prevention programs plus the development of new and better treatment options for this condition.
Most eating disorder challenges are related to mental health and personal wellness matters
Eating disorders are largely attributed to behavioral healthcare issues. While no two people are alike when it comes to eating disorder suffering, there are 5 main categories of eating disorder diagnoses:
- Anorexia nervosa
- Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID)
- Binge eating disorder
- Bulimia nervosa
- Other specified feeding or eating disorder
Numerous kinds of individuals experience eating disorders
It is too early to tell what impact the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic has had on individuals in regards to eating disorder trends. These statistics were compiled prior to the coronavirus outbreak in the United States:
- Eating disorders are developed by men and women of all races, nationalities, ethnic groupS and other self-identified, personal socio-cultural characteristics
- Genetics, environmental factors and personality traits all contribute to the risk of a person developing some sort of eating disorder
- 95% percent of people with an eating disorder are between the ages of 12 and 25
- Eating disorders have the leading risk of fatalities among any mental illness
- 30 million people in the United States have an eating disorder
- Academy of Eating Disorders (AED)
- Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC)
- Eating Disorders Foundation (EDF)
- General Accounting Office-Department of Defense Eating Disorders In The Military
- National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD)
- National Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders (NCEED)
- National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA)
- Nutrition.gov "Eating Disorders"
- National Agricultural Library (USDA) "Eating Disorders"
- United States National Library of Medicine "Eating Disorders"
Global recognition of the worldwide threat to healthcare
World Cancer Day is Thursday, February 4th, 2021. It is a universal day of observance to bring attention to the increasing worldwide prevalence of cancer and the successes, disappointments and challenges of cancer treatment.
The global event is led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). World Cancer Day was launched in 2000.
Key elements to learn and think about on World Cancer Day
Cancer is truly a universal threat around the world. Countless patients and families are impacted by the disease and numerous nurses, doctors, pharmacists and other clinicians battle it as healthcare professionals and dedicated oncology practitioners.
These are some of the primary elements involved with cancer care and treatment which become more granulated and specialized when applied to specific patients, their families and the healthcare professionals that treat them:
- Awareness and prevention
- Access to medical care
- Early diagnosis
- Assertive, targeted treatment
- Complexity of care
- Patient and clinician support
- Survivorship and ongoing care
- Medical academics
- Medical and pharmaceutical research
- Commercial and government healthcare insurance and prescription benefits, out-of-pocket treatment costs
There are numerous forms of cancer; each with its own treatment requirements
The variety of cancers and the types of cancer cells they are comprised of is enormous. Each has to be managed and treated differently. It is not uncommon for oncologists to specialize in a single form of cancer due to clinical complexity, treatment demands and patient needs. This list provides a snapshot of cancer types; many more exist:
- Bladder cancer
- Breast cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Endometrial cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Lung cancer
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Oral and oropharyngeal cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Thyroid cancer
Data from the UICC reveals an ongoing, growing battle as the number of cancer patients worldwide continues to increase
Despite advances in care and greater medical knowledge of cancer, it persists as a major clinical risk and healthcare expense. These are some of the latest statistics from UICC:
- More than 1 out of 6 deaths are due to cancer
- In the last 20 years, the number of people diagnosed with cancer nearly doubled, from roughly 10 million in 2000 to 19.3 million in 2020
- The number of deaths from cancer has increased from 6.2 million in 2000 to 10 million in 2020
- One in 5 people globally will develop cancer in their lifetime
- Forecasts reveal trends that the number of patients being diagnosed with cancer will increase and could be nearly 50% higher in 2040 than in 2020
Breast cancer has become the number one diagnosed cancer worldwide
The World Health Organization (WHO) provides important new information concerning global cancer care and challenges.
All forms of cancer represent significant concern to patients and medical professionals. The International Agency For Research On Cancer (IARC) and WHO recently announced that breast cancer has now surpassed lung cancer as the number one form of diagnosed cancer.
For the United States, BreastCancer.org shares these statistics:
- Approximately 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 13%) will experience invasive breast cancer in their lifetime
- For 2021, an estimated 281,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S. plus 49,290 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer
- For men, about 2,650 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in 2021; a man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is approximately 1 in 833
- An estimated 43,600 women in the U.S. are expected to die in 2021 from breast cancer
- Breast cancer fatality rates have been steady in women under 50 since 2007 but continue to drop in women over 50
- Overall, death rate from breast cancer decreased by 1% per year from 2013 to 2018 thanks to early detection from screening and improvements in medical procedures, pharmaceutical therapies and other breast cancer patient care strategies
- As of January 2021, there are over 3.8 million women with a history of breast cancer in the United States comprised of women currently being treated and women who have finished treatment
- Don't use tobacco
- Eat a healthy diet
- Maintain a healthy weight and be physically active
- Protect yourself from the sun
- Get vaccinated
- Avoid risky behaviors (alcohol abuse, drug abuse, unprotected sex)
- Get regular medical care
- Being considerate, compassionate and supportive of cancer patients as they undergo treatment plus their ongoing challenges as cancer survivors
- Recognize, appreciate, support the efforts of medical professionals and other members of the healthcare industry who dedicate their careers to oncology
- Donate time and/or money to cancer care facilities, cancer patient programs and organizations, cancer research and oncology academics
Latest Sanofi Deal Reaffirms Corporate Commitment To Become A Worldwide Leader In Life Sciences
Founded in 2004 and based in Paris, France Sanofi is making good on its strategic plans to become a global biopharmaceutical leader. The acquisition of Kymab for $1.4 billion is a significant investment and addition to its advanced biotherapeutic product development capabilities. Founded in 2010, Kymab is based in Cambridge, U.K. and specializes in the creation of novel immunology therapies used for:
- Immune disorders
Sanofi covets several new products Kymab is currently developing
One of the primary reasons Sanofi is acquiring Kymab is for it KY1005 pipeline candidate. KY1005 is a fully human monoclonal antibody (mAb) that binds to OX40-Ligand with promising characteristics to treat an array of immune-mediated diseases and inflammatory disorders.
The complete portfolio of investigational therapies in Kymab’s pipeline are being developed for these and other treatments:
- Acute Graft vs. Host Disease
- Atopic Sermatitis
- Hemophilia A
- Solid Tumors
Kymab’s investors come from diverse healthcare sectors
Since its founding, Kymab has raised over $220 million from investment, biopharma and philanthropic organizations. They include:
- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- Hepalink (Shenzhen Hepalink Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd)
- ORI Capital
Sanofi launched a corporate makeover strategy in 2019
Leading up to the Kymab deal, Sanofi has initiated numerous actions and strategies to catapult its position in biotech and advanced pharmaceutical product development.
Early in 2020 the company’s Sanofi’ Sarclisa (isatuximab-irfc), a new IV oncology product from Sanofi was approved by the FDA for use in the treatment of adult patients with relapsed refractory multiple myeloma.
It closed out 2020 by forming a strategic collaboration with Merck involving the potential development of a tandem therapy consisting of Sanofi pipeline candidate THOR-707 (non-alpha IL-2 candidate pegylated recombinant interleukin-2 therapy) and Merck's Keytruda (pembrolizumba).
Since 2018, Sanofi has rolled out a series of biopharmaceutical acquisitions:
- Kiadis Pharma for $359 million in 2020
- Principia Biopharma for $3.6 billion in 2020
- Synthorx for $2.5 billion in 2019
- Ablynx for $4.8 billion in 2018
- Bioverativ for $11.6 billion
In 2018 the company sold it its generic drug unit Zentiva to private equity concern Advent International for $2.2 billion.
Sanofi’s outlook for 2021
There is no telling what’s to follow the Kymab deal in 2021 for Sanofi. Following the coordinated integration of Kymab and Sanofi’s other 2020 acquisitions, a leading priority is to gain regulatory approval for products in the respective pipeline of their acquisitions to help pay for the buyout deals.
It was rumored in 2019 that Sanofi was considering the sale of part or all of its consumer products business unit. This could still be an option that Sanofi has in its business strategy moving forward.
UnitedHealth Group Escalates Its Healthcare Data Analytics Capabilities With Change Healthcare Buyout
UnitedHealth Group will integrate Change Healthcare into its OptumInsight business group. OptumInsight is devoted to healthcare data analytics and technology aligned with clinical and financial applications.
Change Healthcare is a compact and successful data management innovator that is purely focused on the healthcare industry
Change Healthcare was founded in 2016 and is based in Nashville, Tennessee. Its 2019 revenue was $3.3 billion. Its scope of work encompasses clinical information and revenue and cycle management solutions that span patients and payers.
This includes data from pharmacies, healthcare provider organizations (hospitals, health systems, medical practice groups, etc.),various channel partners plus commercial and government medical and prescription benefit plans. It also offers IT solutions that optimize the management of medical imaging applications.
UnitedHealth Group is the largest healthcare insurance corporation in the United States
United Health Group (commonly referred to as "United Healthcare", "UHC" or "UHG") was founded in 1998. Its 2019 revenue was $242 billion. The addition of Change Healthcare catapults its ability to manage data across its business model that includes:
- Commercial healthcare insurance (employers, union groups etc.)
- Dental benefits
- Immediate care clinics
- Mail order pharmacy, retail pharmacy, specialty pharmacy
- Medicaid plans
- Medicare plans
- Pharmacy benefit management (PBM)
- Surgical centers
- Vision benefits
By fortifying OptumInsights with Change Healthcare, it will function as UnitedHealth Group's center of excellence that will account for multiple aspects of billing, clinical and commercial healthcare data analytics, financial management, forecasting and other aspects of profitable risk management enterprise.
United Healthcare’s primary competitors are:
- Aetna (CVS/Aetna - NYSE: CVS)
- Anthem and all other Blue Cross Blue Shield organizations nationwide
- Centene Corporation (NYSE: CNC)
- Cigna/ExpressScripts (NYSE: CI)
- Humana (NYSE: HUM)
- Intermountain Healthcare (privately held)
- Kaiser Permanente (privately held)
UnitedHealth Group's investment is an ideal strategic move as the company continues to diversity its business model as a payer and provider organization.
FDA Approves Ebanga (ansuvimab-zykl): A New Ebola Virus Treatment
Ridgeback Biotherapeutics has earned FDA approval for its new Ebola virus treatment therapy Ebanga (Ansuvimab-zykl). Ebanga is a monoclonal antibody (mAb) that is issued an indication for the treatment for (Ebolavirus) infection in adults and children.
Available by prescription only, Ebanga is an injectable product. Its method of action prevents the binding of the Ebola virus to the cell receptor so that it cannot make entry into and infect the cell.
Ebola is a highly contagious and potent viral pathogen
Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreaks signal instant medical emergencies that demand the swift attention of healthcare professionals and government health officials. The virus is most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa. Its victims can contract EVD by direct contact with or the bodily fluids of an infected creature (bats, nonhuman primates, assorted mammals) or a human –including the bodies of EVD fatalities.
There are 6 varieties of Ebola virus; these 4 are harmful to humans:
- Bundibugyo ebolavirus (BDBV)
- Sudan ebolavirus (SUDV)
- Tai Forest (TAFV - formerly referred to as Ebola Ivory Coast)
- Zaïre ebolavirus (EBOV)
If outbreaks occur in remote areas there are less sources of medical care for Ebola victims to go to for treatment so deaths or severe suffering by patients occur as it is difficult for medical professionals to reach them quickly. This issue becomes magnified due to Ebola's ability to emerge and spread suddenly while deploying its harmful ability to generate deadly symptoms in its victims.
The FDA prioritized Ebanga’s evaluation and approval process
As Ebola is a significant and deadly threat the FDA and other regulatory authorities are eager to help facilitate the review of products which may be effective in treating it.
The FDA took action to accelerate the process to assess Ebanga so it could be evaluated sooner and once approved be made available to medical professionals and their patients more quickly.
The agency deployed these and other measures to support an expedited review of it:
Ridgeback Biotherapeutics is a compact biopharma enterpriseFounded in 2016, Ridgeback Biotherapeutics is headquartered in Miami, Florida. In addition to its success with Ebanga, it has a strategic partnership with Merck (NYSE: MRK) focused on the development of a COVID-19 antiviral agent. Ridgeback Biotherapeutics is privately held.
October, November and December have been exceptionally active months spanning multiple sectors in the healthcare industry. Get the new strategic updates on these and other healthcare enterprises by clicking here now!
- Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) Unveils “Care Hub”: A New Alexa Healthcare Service
- Boehringer Ingelheim Acquiring NBE Therapeutics For $1.5 Billion
- FDA Approves Eiger Biopharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: EIGR) New Product Zokinvy (lonafarnib)
- New Genentech (Roche - OTC: RHHBY) Oncology Drug Gavreto (pralsetinib) Approved By FDA
- Lucira Health: FDA Approves First At-Home COVID-19 Test
- Merck (NYSE: MRK) Announces $2.75 Billion Acquisition of VelosBio
- Orladeyo (Berotralstat) By Biocryst Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: BSX) Earns FDA Approval
- Rite Aid (NYSE: RAD) Acquires Bartell Drugs
- Royal Philips Nv (NYSE: PHG) Acquires BioTelemetry (NASDAQ: BEAT) For $2.5 Billion
- Select Rehabilitation Is Acquiring Kindred Healthcare's (Humana - NYSE: HUM) RehabCare Business Unit
- UPMC And CarePathRx Form Partnership In $400 Million Deal
Each year flu cases begin to emerge in mid-to-late Fall. Flu season usually peaks in December through February but can still have measurable impact into May and clinically speaking, flu cases can occur year-round.
How serious is the flu?
Flu illness can result in significantly uncomfortable personal wellness issues (aches, coughs, fever, nausea, etc.) plus missed days of school, work as well as cancellation of work or vacation travel plans and other activities.
On a global basis, The World Health Organization estimates there between 3 million and 5 million flu cases annually that result in between 290,000 and 650,000 fatalities. In the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), flu illness results in about 36,000 deaths and roughly 200,000 hospitalizations annually.
Getting a flu shot helps nurses, doctors and the healthcare organizations they work for
While flu shots are not always 100% effective, it is believed the vaccine helps reduce the severity of symptoms for those persons that wind up getting the flu although they received the vaccine. Anything that helps reduce the number of flu-related physician office appointments and/or hospital admissions is important as the nation and the world continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. Less flu patients means medical professionals can focus more on COVID-19 and other seriously ill patients.
What is the difference between flu and COVID-19?
While there are some similarities between flu and COVID-19 symptoms and both illnesses are triggered by unique viruses, there are distinct differences. Johns Hopkins Medicine has published this helpful and easy to understand article on the differences between flu and COVID-19.
What kind of flu vaccines are available?
Generally speaking, according to the CDC there are inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV), recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV) or live attenuated nasal spray influenza vaccine (LAIV4) options. Patients should talk with a healthcare professional to determine which one is best for them.
Where can patients get a flu shot?
Flu vaccines are more widely available than ever before and they are now often covered by employer and commercial health plan insurance as well as government (Medicaid, Medicare, DHA/TRICARE, etc.) plans for low or zero copays.
Based on economic and employment status, some individuals may qualify to receive their flu vaccine for free. Patients should contact their insurance plan, doctor or pharmacist as well as local government public health authorities, community health centers and nearby hospitals for more information.
VaccineFinder is a helpful and authoritative resource
Supported by Boston Children's Hospital, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Harvard Medical School and HealthMap, VaccineFinder helps persons find out where to get numerous types of immunizations including flu shots nationwide. It also provides factual information about each type of vaccine it features in its list. Visit VaccineFinder to learn more!
What else can you do to reduce the chances of getting the flu?
To help further minimize the chances of getting the flu in addition to getting a flu shot, these are some easy steps to follow:
- Avoid close contact with persons who are sick (social distancing!)
- Cover your nose and mouth when you cough
- Wash your hands frequently
- Sanitize devices (mobile and house phones, computer keyboards, television remote controls, automobile knobs, levers and switches) plus surfaces like desktops, countertops, door handles and other areas that are frequently touched with hands or closely exposed to coughs or sneezes
- Do not go to work or school if you are sick
- Avoid touching your nose, face or eyes
- Until the CDC and other healthcare authorities recommend otherwise, always wear a mask in places where social distancing is not possible plus places where you work, shop or conduct other routine daily activities outside of your home
Learning about antibiotics leads to better decisions and healthy outcomes
Antibiotics are wonderfully effective therapies used to treat an array of illnesses but they have their limitations and precautions as all medications do. Medical professionals are careful in their assessment of patients and their clinical decision making that leads to them prescribing or not prescribing an antibiotic. These are important considerations that clinicians and consumers share when it comes to the use of antibiotics:
1) Bacterial resistance
The overprescribing of antibiotics can lead to bacterial pathogens becoming more resistant to them. The natural biosystems within bacteria can become conditioned to and/or build their own natural defenses against antibiotic agents. This can reduce the effectiveness of antibiotics. Medical professionals are well aware of this as it impacts their choice to prescribe or not prescribe an antibiotic –and it weighs in on their specific choice of antibiotics when they do choose to prescribe them.
2) The differences between bacterial and viral pathogens
Antibiotics are not effective against viruses. Even though the symptoms of a viral infection may mirror those of a bacterial infection, the differences between bacterial and viral pathogens prevent the use of antibiotics to treat viral infections. Medical professionals often use various diagnostic tests and other evaluation methods to discern if a patient is ill due to bacterial or viral pathogens and choose their treatment course of action accordingly.
3) When it comes to antibiotics sharing is not caring!
It is not safe or effective to share antibiotics. Medical professionals prescribe antibiotics according to the specific patient they have diagnosed. If a patient shares their medication with another person that has the same symptoms, various issues can arise. Even if their symptoms are the same, each person may be infected by a different pathogen and the antibiotic prescribed will not be effective for the other sick individual.
Another concern is the other person may not be able to tolerate the medication prescribed to the patient diagnosed by the clinician or they may also be on another medication which could have a harmful interaction with the antibiotic.
4) Therapeutic adherence is essential to ensure antibiotic effectiveness
Patients taking antibiotics need to consume them according to the instructions of the medical professional that prescribed them. The doses of therapy should be taken at the precise hourly or daily intervals directed by the prescribing clinicians plus they should be taken in accordance with any other guidance that accompanies those instructions (take with food, abstain from alcohol, etc.).
The complete course of therapy prescribed needs to be completed. If a patient fails to consume the entire quantity of prescribed medication because they feel better, symptoms may return as the bacterial pathogen being treated is able to rebound with the result being their illness is prolonged and could require further care.
5) The negative economic impact of inappropriate antibiotic use
Misuse of antibiotics increases costs. If resistance to antibiotics increases, their effectiveness declines which means they may need to be prescribed at greater strengths or rendered ineffective to the extent that other more expensive antibiotic treatment options need to be used first.
These issues also apply to when an individual takes antibiotics prescribed to someone else and they fail to be effective or the consequences of drug interactions demand further care.
6) Pharmacists are important resources
Frequent prescribers of antibiotics are nurse practitioners and medical doctors. They can provide patients with ample information about the antibiotic therapy they are prescribing them. If a patient has further questions about the medication, they can also talk with the pharmacist who dispenses the antibiotic prescription medication for them.
Antibiotics are some of the most frequently dispensed medications at retail pharmacies. If necessary, the pharmacist can further consult with the prescribing clinician so the patient's questions are completely answered to their satisfaction.
Maximizing the benefits of antibiotics
Through understanding these 6 basic points about antibiotics, consumers, patients, medical professionals and payers all benefit from the clinical and economic attributes of antibiotics. Pharmaceutical manufacturers and healthcare researchers are continuing to develop better antibiotic therapies to treat a wider array of illnesses. The value of old and new antibiotic medications will continue to increase if they are used appropriately.
Global demand for SARS CoV-2 vaccine is enormous
Cambridge, Massachusetts based Moderna has accumulated over $1 billion in deposits for the COVID-19 vaccine it is developing. It reportedly has COVID-19 immunization supply contracts with interests in Africa, Asia, Middle East and North America. Dating back to March, Moderna and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) formed an agreement to speed discovery and commercialization of a vaccine for COVID-19. BARDA is a unit of the Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.
Moderna is becoming a worldwide biotech and healthcare brand
Founded in 2010 and headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts Moderna’s research & development initiatives are aligned with COVID-19 messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) sciences and solutions. Human cells use mRNA to direct the creation of proteins necessary to sustain biological functions within people including those actions that thwart disease.
Messenger RNA (mRNA) is a single-stranded RNA molecule that is complementary to a single DNA strand in a gene. An mRNA is an RNA form of the gene that exits the cell nucleus and travels to the cytoplasm where proteins are produced. Throughout protein synthesis, an organelle defined as a ribosome travels along the mRNA, scans its base sequence then uses the genetic code to decipher each three-base triplet (“codon”) into its matching amino acid.
Moderna’s clinical trial vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, requires two doses as its proposed immunization regimen. It presently has more than 30,000 patients enrolled in its clinical trials and more than 25,000 of them have received the second dose.
The vaccine research & development work at Moderna extends beyond COVID-19:
Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA) has deployed numerous assets and resources into its vaccine development initiatives. These are some of the immunization products underway in Moderna’s new therapy pipeline:
- Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
- Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
- KRAS (pancreatic cancer immunization)
- Influenza H7N9
- PCV (personalized cancer vaccine)
- Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
- Zika vaccine
Patients, medical professionals, government officials, nations and investors all uniquely share a common interest in Moderna's success in developing a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible!
Chain drugstore giants pivotal players in upcoming HHS COVID-19 immunization initiative
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has contracted with Walgreens and CVS Health to develop programs to administer coronavirus immunizations to residents / patients that live in assisted living / residential care homes plus long term care / skilled nursing facilities.
Operators of the facilities will be able to choose which of the two companies they prefer to provide them with coronavirus immunization services free of charge. They can also decide not to participate in the program or possibly request another provider, such as a local independent pharmacy or other viable care provider, to administer the immunizations.
Walgreens and CVS staff will administer the coronavirus vaccines through on-site care at facilities
The program is structured around Walgreens (NASDAQ: WBA) and CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) who will work with management and owners of the facilities to arrange for space and plan calendar schedules for residents and staff to be immunized on-site. Depending on the facilities and number of staff and residents at each, the on-site immunization proceedings are expected to potentially require 3 days of appointments over the course of 2 months.
Vaccine dosing compliance, vaccine quantities and coordination of staff are 3 pivotal program elements
The scheduling and logistics can vary depending on the type of COVID-19 vaccine being administered from various companies. Some manufacturers have vaccines in clinical trials that require only 1 injection and others that require 2 injections spaced apart by weeks or months. The initiative is a massive undertaking. It is estimated there are more than 30,000 assisted living facilities and approximately 15,000 skilled nursing facilities in the United States.
Walgreens, CVS competing for volume, bragging rights as care providers in national health crisis
For Deerfield, Illinois based Walgreens and CVS Health based in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, the program is reminiscent of their competitive participation in the launch of Medicare Part D in 2006. Each will be seeking to be the most chosen vendor by the participating facilities and be diligently planning on how to execute their progams with a minimum of issues and a maximum level of profitability.
Breast Cancer is the number one cancer among new cancer patient diagnoses
About one out of every 8 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime -and men can be diagnosed with it as well. On a global basis, breast cancer impacts about 2.1 million women annually. It is a very challenging disease for patients and medical professionals to deal with worldwide.
These are some essential facts to know about breast cancer in the United States:
- Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, except for skin cancers; it is estimated that in 2020, about 30% of all new women cancer diagnoses will be breast cancer
- In 2020, about 276,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the U.S. as well as 48,530 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer
- This year, an estimated 42,170 women will die from breast cancer in the United States
- On average, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every 2 minutes in the United States
- Although it is rare men can be diagnosed with breast cancer, during 2020 about 2,620 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. and about 520 will die from it
- 64% of breast cancer cases are diagnosed at a localized stage (there is no sign that the cancer has spread outside of the breast), for which the 5-year survival rate is about 99%
- There are more than 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States
- Licensed medical doctors, nurses, pharmacists, etc.