PHARMACY

Maryland leaders address health reform, cite urgency of chronic disease prevention

BY Jim Frederick

BALTIMORE The Maryland Pharmacists Association has joined with 40 other health and industry groups in the state in an urgent bid to manage the growing chronic disease crisis and health reform efforts in the United States.

The move comes in response to the debate now raging in Congress over the future of the nation’s healthcare system. State and local leaders met Saturday at the Baltimore Medical System at Saint Agnes Hospital Community Care Center to call for comprehensive reforms to address the growing crisis of chronic disease in Maryland and nationwide.

Those leaders, representing 41 different organizations, have formed the Maryland chapter of The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease. PFCD is a coalition committed to making chronic disease prevention and management a major part of comprehensive health reform. The goal: to mobilize the nation’s policy-makers and the healthcare system to shift the vast machinery of chronic care into more cost-effective and effective modes of preventive care, drug utilization and lifestyle management.

Among those serving on the group’s leadership panel: former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend; Sharon Allison-Ottey, a physician and executive director of The COSHAR Foundation; and Miguel McInnis, CEO of the Mid-Atlantic Association of Community Health Centers.

Townsend spoke of the urgency driving PFCD’s efforts. “We are in crisis,” she said July 2. “The cost of chronic disease is unsustainable. “Our healthcare system is not making us healthy, and we have to change,” she added. “We need to exercise, eat well and get regular check ups.”

Citing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the group noted that chronic diseases are responsible for 7-of-every-10 deaths in the United States, taking the lives of more than 1.7 million Americans each year and accounting for more than 75% of the nation’s annual healthcare bill of more than $2 trillion.

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Biogen Idec, Acorda Therapeutics to develop, commercialize MS drug

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. Two drug makers have announced plans to develop and commercialize a multiple sclerosis treatment in markets outside the United States.

Biogen Idec and Acorda Therapeutics said the agreement to market Fampridine-SR (4-aminopyridine) was a sublicensing of an existing license agreement between Acorda and a subsidiary of Elan Corp. The drug is an orally administered, sustained-release drug being developed to improve walking ability in patients with MS.

Under the terms of the agreement, Biogen Idec will commercialize Fampridine-SR and other aminopyridine products in markets outside the United States, and also will have responsibility for regulatory affairs and future clinical development of the drug. In exchange, Acorda will receive an upfront payment of $110 million and additional payments of up to $400 million based on the successful achievement of future regulatory and sales milestones.

The companies said the Food and Drug Administration is reviewing a regulatory approval application for the drug for the U.S. market.

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Study: Joint replacement patients with diabetes greatly benefit from controlled glucose

BY Alaric DeArment

ROSEMONT, Ill. The risk of complications that diabetes patients often have when undergoing total joint replacement decreases when they have their glucose levels under control, according to a recent study.

Published in the July issue of The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, the study found that diabetics with uncontrolled glucose levels are more than three times as likely as those with their levels under control to experience a stroke or death after joint replacement surgery, and are approximately twice as likely to experience post-operative bleeding and infection.

“We found that controlled glucose levels really do make a difference for the patient,” Duke University Medical Center orthopedic surgeon and study co-author Milford Marchant said. “It did not matter if the patient had Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.”

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