HEALTH

New blood pressure guidelines implemented across higi kiosks

BY Michael Johnsen

Higi on Tuesday announced their commitment to implementing the new American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association 2017 blood pressure guidelines across the 11,000 FDA-cleared higi stations at retail stores and community locations nationwide.

“At higi, we are committed to helping retailers and healthcare providers better reach consumers in their health. Following the announcement of the new blood pressure guidelines, we witnessed a nearly 30% increase in the number of higi population health screenings that will be considered hypertensive,” Jeff Bennett, CEO of Chicago-based higi, said. “Through our trusted partnerships with the retail community, higi is uniquely suited to deliver a convenient population health screening venue without requiring a significant increase in medical staffing to address the increased volume of patients.”

The November 2017 announcement by ACC and AHA to update the blood pressure guidelines underscores the importance key biometrics, particularily blood pressure, means for the health of consumers. Under the new guidelines, almost two-thirds (24 million) of the 39 million higi blood pressure screenings in 2017 were in the hypertensive range.

Today, every 90-seconds a higi user learns that he or she has their blood pressure in the hypertensive crisis range.

“After nearly 14 years, it was important for the hypertension guidelines to be updated. An abundance of research and evidence has repeatedly demonstrated a high number of hypertension related cardiovascular events occurring in individuals that have blood pressure previously considered in the ‘pre-hypertensive’ range,” Khan Siddiqui, higi chief medical officer and chief technology officer, said. “With this change, health organizations, including pharmacists located at convenient points of care, will be better equipped to save lives and money by preventing more strokes, cardiovascular events and kidney failure while increasing awareness of the risk of hypertension – considered one of the deadliest ‘silent killers.’”

Beginning in late March 2018, higi will implement the new blood pressure guidelines at all 11,000 higi health stations across the entire North American network. As part of this announcement, educational information will be incorporated into the higi station experience, informing consumers about the new blood pressure guidelines, what it means for their personal health and how lifestyle changes can impact their overall health.

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Former Walgreens chief healthcare exec joins Fitbit board

BY Michael Johnsen

Fitbit on Tuesday announced that Brad Fluegel has joined the Fitbit board of directors. Fluegel recently retired as senior vice president, chief healthcare commercial market development officer for Walgreens.

“Brad brings extensive experience that will be invaluable as we continue to integrate more deeply into the healthcare system. This includes his work with some of the nation’s largest health insurers along with driving long term growth strategies within the healthcare industry at large,” James Park, CEO of Fitbit, said. “We welcome his insights and leadership as we expand and scale our healthcare offerings.”

Fluegel had joined Walgreens in October 2012 after holding senior leadership roles at Anthem, Aetna and United Health Group. A seasoned healthcare executive, he also served as executive in residence at Health Evolution Partners. Prior to that, he was executive vice president and chief strategy and external affairs officer of Anthem, one of the largest health benefits companies in the U.S., where he was responsible for long-term strategic planning, international expansion and new business ventures, among other roles.

Prior to Anthem, Fluegel was senior vice president of national accounts and vice president, enterprise strategy at Aetna. In this role, he was responsible for developing and executing on strategies that expanded Aetna’s position as a leader in the large employer market.

“As a leading brand with one of the largest databases of exercise, activity and sleep data as well as an engaged community of millions of users around the world, Fitbit is uniquely positioned to take what it has built and apply it to the healthcare industry, helping support better delivery of care,” Fluegel said. “I look forward to working with Fitbit’s leadership team as the company continues to make its vision to make the world healthier a reality.”

Fluegel joined the San Francisco-based wearable manufacturer effective March 4, 2018.

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New eye drops like OTC Lumify to bolster Valeant 2018 sales

BY Michael Johnsen

One of the promising product launches mentioned by Valeant in its fourth-quarter conference call last week was Bausch + Lomb’s Lumify, which recently was approved to treat red, irritated eyes. “In addition to growing our core businesses, another important area of focus throughout the year has been advancing our new product pipeline,” Joseph Papa, chairman and CEO of Valeant, told investors last week. “While the [Valeant] business stabilized in the second half of 2017, the first half of 2018 will have a tougher comp for us, with the prospect of turning the corner to growth later in the year, as our new product launches take hold.”

Total annual revenues for the company totaled $8.7 billion, a decrease of 10% as compared to the year-ago period. But looking, forward Valeant has a host of new products coming to market, including Lumify.

In December, 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Lumify (brimonidine tartrate ophthalmic solution 0.025%) as the first and only over-the-counter eye drop developed with low-dose brimonidine tartrate for the treatment of ocular redness. Brimonidine, which was first approved by the FDA in 1996 for intraocular pressure reduction in glaucoma patients, is available at higher doses in prescription eye care products.

“With [the] approval of Lumify, consumers have a new and unique treatment option to relieve red, irritated eyes,” Papa said at the time of the approval. “Lumify is the first and only OTC eye drop with low-dose brimonidine, which has been clinically proven to be safe and effective since its initial approval as a prescription medication in 1996. We expect Lumify will be available for purchase in major retailers in the second quarter of 2018.”

Ocular redness is a common condition that can be caused by inflammation of almost any part of the eye. With frequent use, non-selective redness relieving eye drops that constrict blood vessels in the eye can result in users developing a tolerance or loss of effectiveness, as well as rebound redness. In contrast, low-dose brimonidine, the active ingredient in Lumify, selectively constricts veins in the eye, increasing the availability of oxygen to surrounding tissue, thereby reducing the potential risk of these side effects.

“Patients with eye redness and irritation can experience negative social connotations, which may impact daily life,” Paul Karpecki, director Corneal Services at Kentucky Eye Institute, said. “Having a drop that reduces redness without the side effects of rebound hyperemia or tachyphylaxis, which may lead to overuse and potential corneal toxicity, is a very exciting option that I look forward to recommending to my patients.”

 

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