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Archive for May, 2009

United Therapeutics Approved for New Hypertension Drug

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According to the Triangle Business Journal, United Therapeutics Corp. has won U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to sell the drug Adcirca for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension. Adcirca is a prescription medicine used to treat PAH, a life-threatening disease that constricts the flow of blood through the pulmonary vasculature. Adcirca contains the same active ingredient as Cialis (tadalafil), which is marketed by Eli Lilly & Company to treat erectile dysfunction in more than 100 countries.

The American Lung Association says pulmonary arterial hypertension can cause shortness of breath, chest pain and eventually heart failure when left untreated. There is no cure, but research continues into treatment and management options for those who may suffer from it. The disease is often linked to other conditions such as heart or lung disease, infection with HIV, and autoimmune disorders.

The exciting part of this FDA approval is that this new drug could change the way that erectile dysfunction and hypertension are treated in tandem, especially in demographic males who may suffer from both. Physicians will be watching to see what other drugs may come into play to treat two separate health issues effectively.

New Institute For Rare Diseases

A unique new institute will look for ways to treat rare and neglected diseases and take the first and riskiest steps toward bringing new drugs to market, U.S. health officials said in a recent report.

According to Reuters news service, the government has provided support for several years to start the Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Diseases Program at the National Institutes of Health. The program will use taxpayer money to get drugs through the most costly and dangerous phase of development, known as the “Valley of Death” because so many fail there.

The goal is to treat those who suffer from rare conditions that lack treatment. A rare disease is classified as one that affects fewer than 200,000 Americans, and NIH estimates there are about 6,800 of these conditions. Out of this number, only around 200 have treatment.

“Twenty-five to 30 million Americans suffer from rare or neglected diseases,” said acting NIH director Dr. Raynard Kington in a telephone briefing with reporters.

“We don’t know yet exactly which diseases this program will take on,” added Dr. Alan Guttmacher, acting director of the National Human Genome Research Institute.

Guttmacher also said the new institute would be opportunistic, pouncing on promising research studies, some of which may be funded by advocacy groups for rare diseases.

For more information on the Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Diseases Program, visit: http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/

Cardiology Leader Urges Use of Disease Registries

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During a recent web conference sponsored by Avalere Health, Ralph Brindis, incoming president of the American College of Cardiology, called for health care providers in all areas to increase their use of disease registries as to collect better data on quality and performance.

According to Brindis, the disease registries will “allow timely clinical data to be collected for performance-measure reporting.” He added that the registries would enable the industry to test “performance measures for many stakeholders before they are widely used or accepted.”
In addition, as more health providers use the databases, “the registries would be strengthened in terms of their participation within the community,” Brindis said. In the end, increased usage could help automate data entry and help health care providers avoid entering information into inefficient, multiple alternative systems. To put it simply, there needs to be something more unified.
Does your clinic or practice utilize disease registries? Why or why not?

Rural Heath Care Lacking Says Report

According to a new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, health care in rural areas is facing cost and availability difficulties, making it an even more dire problem than in urban settings.

“Americans in rural communities have seen their premiums skyrocket and are finding it difficult, if not impossible to get the care they need,” says HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. In addition, the findings also indicate that many rural residents pay 40% of their total health care costs, as compared with the urban share of one-third.

Rural Americans face higher rates of poverty, report more health problems, are more likely to be uninsured, and have less access to a primary health care provider than do Americans living in urban areas, the report indicates.

“In the current recession, the rural economy is losing jobs at a faster rate than the rest of the nation, and loss of jobs can lead to loss of health coverage. In particular, rural communities dependent on manufacturing have lost nearly 5 percent of their jobs since the recession began – and these are jobs that offer some of the best benefits,” says the report.

If you’re a rural health care provider, what steps are you taking to combat the issues raised in the HHS report? Is your practice making changes to make health care more affordable in the recession?