HEALTH

Continua Health Alliance develops first end-to-end connected health solution

BY Michael Johnsen

BEAVERTON, Ore. Wireless management of such health devices as blood glucose meters and blood pressure monitors took one step closer to becoming reality Monday with the Continua Health Alliance announcement of the first end-to-end connected health solution based on the Continua architecture.

IBM, Nonin Medical, and Vignet will demonstrate the end-to-end solution this week at the Consumer Electronics Show, and illustrate how data from consumer health devices can be transmitted to a variety of destinations, including hospitals, medical offices and patient information systems.

In the demonstration, data from a Continua Certified Bluetooth-enabled wireless pulse oximeter from Nonin Medical will be sent to a P.C. manager running the Vignet Connected Health Services platform using the Continua device interface standard. The manager will upload the data to an IBM server using the Continua WAN interface standard. From there, the IBM server can send the data, using the Continua interface, to various service providers such as healthcare facilities, disease management services or personal health record services.

“IBM is committed to enabling connected home health solutions such as remote patient monitoring, which have great potential to improve patient outcomes and deliver more affordable health care,” stated Katherine Holland, GM for IBM Global Life Sciences. “Demonstrating an end-to-end implementation of the Continua architecture is an important milestone, and IBM is pleased to partner with Continua members to build an ecosystem of interoperable, personal connected health solutions.”

The publication of the Continua Health Alliance Version One Design Guidelines last year paved the way for Continua members to develop compliant connected health products and services. The Continua interoperability guidelines specify how to use existing standards to build interoperable personal healthcare solutions. The group’s next design guidelines, expected in the first half of 2010, will include two wireless technology standards for low power radios and will enable new devices, additional use cases and extend the capabilities of devices in the Continua Health Alliance ecosystem.

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Decision Resources projects same U.S., Europe patient share of ulcerative colitis biologic

BY Allison Cerra

WALTHAM, Mass. A new report by Decision Resources revealed that a biological therapy with a mechanism of action other than tumor necrosis factor-alpha inhibitors, used for the treatment of moderate to severe ulcerative colitis, would earn a 25% patient share in both the United States and Europe.

The report, “Ulcerative Colitis: Gastroenterologists Identify Emerging Drugs That Will Challenge the Benchmark Therapy Infliximab for Moderate to Severe UC,” finds that two emerging TNF-alpha inhibitors — Abbott/Eisai’s Humira and Centocor Ortho Biotech/Merck/Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma/Janssen’s Simponi — will earn Decision Resources’ proprietary clinical gold standard status for ulcerative colitis in 2013 following their approval for the indication. Both Humira and Simponi have competitive advantages over sales-leader Remicade in efficacy, delivery, and safety and tolerability.

“Although clinical trial data are limited, interviewed experts believe that both Humira and Simponi’s fully human composition will translate into incremental advantages in efficacy for maintenance of remission and maintenance of response compared to Remicade, which is a chimeric monoclonal antibody,” said Decision Resources analyst Kathryn Benton.

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Mayo Clinic study notes St. John’s wort ineffective in treating IBS

BY Allison Cerra

ROCHESTER, Minn. A Mayo Clinic research study published in the January issue of The American Journal of Gastroenterology found that St. John’s wort is not an effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome.

While antidepressants are frequently used to treat IBS, to date, no study has examined the success of using the herbal supplement St. John’s wort in treating IBS.

“Our study investigated if herbal antidepressants such as St. John’s wort could benefit irritable bowel disease patients,” says Yuri Saito, M.D., M.P.H., gastroenterologist and lead physician scientist on the study. “Several of the chemical neurotransmitters that are in the brain are also in the colon. Therefore, it’s been thought that antidepressants may affect sensation in the colon in a similar way to how they affect sensation in the brain. Our goal was to evaluate the usefulness of St John’s wort in treating IBS.”

In this placebo-controlled trial, 70 participants with IBS were randomized where half the patients received St. John’s wort and the other half received a placebo for three months. In all, 86 percent of the participants were women, and the median age was 42 years. After three months of observing symptoms such as stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation and bloating, Mayo researchers found that the placebo group had a better response than the group taking the herbal supplement, St. John’s wort.

“Because people tend to struggle with IBS for several years, patients are really looking for inexpensive, over-the-counter treatments such as St. John’s wort,” Saito said. “Unfortunately, our study showed that St. John’s wort was not successful in helping IBS patients.”

St. John’s wort is an herbal supplement derived from the St. John’s wort plant. It has been shown to be helpful in such several medical conditions as depression, as well as other pain syndromes. Research has shown it to be as effective as conventional, prescription antidepressants in treating mild to moderate depression.

“The challenge with IBS is that there is no cure, no one treatment tends to be wholly effective and some treatments come with significant side effects,” Saito said. “However, well-designed studies of herbal supplements are important so that physicians and patients can make informed decisions about which supplements to recommend or try. Studies of alternative treatments are generally lacking and patients are forced to use a ‘trial and error’ approach to over-the-counter treatments for their IBS.”

IBS is a common disorder that affects the colon and commonly causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation. Approximately 58 million people struggle with IBS, mostly women.

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