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Archive for June, 2009

A Personal Approach to Care

As health care reform rages through our government, a new and interesting approach to medicine is making it’s appearance as an alternative to making house calls. Coined by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 1967, medical homes are systems that provide around the clock access to care using a team of professionals – for example a physician, a nurse practitioner, a dietician, a social worker, and a pharmacist – to cut down on medical costs and improve access to treatment. Using a series of computerized records and electronic communications methods, medical homes help patients get specialty care when they need it and keeps careful track of treatments and progress. For doctors and health care professionals, the system is seamless and easy with contact and access to records always at hand.

According to the New York Times, there are now medical homes in more than a dozen states, many of them serving Medicaid patients. Their proponents say they save money because they focus on prevention and prompt attention to emerging problems, which can prevent costly complications. Some major health insurers are also testing patient-centered medical homes. The medical home concept has also won the support of the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Physicians and the American Osteopathic Association, among others.

Do you feel that medical homes are the future of patient care?

Newest Coated Stent Does Well in First Test

Heart Model

The Xience stent, a flexible metal-mesh tube coated with the drug everolimus, has recently been used in it’s first real-life trial and according to Dutch cardiologists, it is performing incredibly well.

Though the product was approved by the FDA last July, the effectiveness of the new stent in “complex, unselected patients treated in daily practice still remains unknown and cannot be extrapolated from these randomized controlled trials,” said cardiologists at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam in their report, which was released online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. “We therefore sought to evaluate the impact of this second-generation drug-eluting stent on the clinical outcomes in consecutive patients treated in a real-life, all-comer population.”

The trial, which involved nearly 650 people, compared the outcomes of those given the new stent with others who had received bare metal stents or another type of coated stent. The result: in a sixth month follow up period, the incidence of death, heart attack and stenosis was lower in the Xience group.

The Xience V stent is made by Abbott Vascular and the company will continue to track performance using a data bank that incorporates more than 5,000 recipients.

Swine Flu Pandemic Declared by World Health Organization

Yesterday the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the first pandemic to hit in over forty years. The H1N1 virus, also known as the Swine Flu, has how reached a Phase 6, the highest level, on the WHO’s infectious diseases alert.

So far, the H1N1 or swine flu pandemic this year has accounted for 27,737 laboratory-confirmed cases and 141 deaths, although health officials believe many times that number have been infected but have not been tested because their disease was mild. In the US alone, there have been more than 13,000 cases and at least 27 deaths. A normal seasonal flu outbreak kills about 250,000 to 500,000 people worldwide.

The WHO and its supporters are now hoping that pharmaceutical companies will move faster toward the release of a vaccine against the new virus. The announcement will also have more impact on many impoverished countries, freeing up additional funds for treatment and prevention and helping to make stocks of antiviral drugs more readily available.

To find out more, read the official statement from the WHO.

Experimental Drug Works in Treating Resistant Tuberculosis

World Health Organization Logo

According to the World Health Organization, about 1.8 million people die worldwide each year from tuberculosis (TB) and a third of the world’s population are infected. In addition, of the 9 million new TB cases annually, about 490,000 are multiple-drug resistant TB or MDR-TB and about 40,000 are extensively drug resistant or XDR-TB. However, according to new research, an experimental treatment could help in treating resistant TB, delivering results that are up to five times more effective than current methods.

According to the study, funded by Johnson & Johnson, drug TMC207, if added to a standard cocktail of five other TB medicines, cleared traces of the tuberculosis bacteria in the sputum of 48 percent of the volunteers after eight weeks. Only 9 percent of patients given the five older drugs alone showed that type of improvement. TMC207 is now being billed as the first new tuberculosis drug in 40 years. It works by interfering with the enzyme ATP synthase, which the bacteria need to store energy.

“The development of TMC207 represents an important advance in the chemotherapy of tuberculosis,” said Clifton Barry of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, Maryland in a recent commentary about the new drug. It represents “a new class of drugs that increase the therapeutic options for patients who have multidrug-resistant or extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis, for whom treatment options are often sparse, largely ineffective, and often highly toxic.”