PHARMACY

Roche buys Wisconsin gene therapy company

BY Alaric DeArment

Roche will buy a Wisconsin gene therapy company developing a mechanism to turn off genes associated with cancer and other diseases, Roche announced Tuesday.

In a deal worth $125 million, Roche will buy Mirus Bio. The Madison, Wisc., company is developing a technology called RNAi, also known as gene silencing. Roche plans to keep the development of the technology in Madison.

Another company developing gene silencing, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, sold its rights to the technology to Roche last year, and the Swiss company had made an offer earlier this week for Genentech.

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FairWarning doubles H1 revenues year-on-year

BY Drew Buono

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. The healthcare privacy auditing solutions for electronic health records company FairWarning has announced that during the first six months of 2008, the company more than doubled revenues over the same period of time in 2007. Furthermore, the company expects that by the end of this year, it will double 2007 revenues.

FairWarning has experienced a spike in sales of its privacy auditing solutions across every sector of the healthcare industry including: hospitals, health systems and major physician offices. FairWarning attributes its growth and growing customer base to a drastic increase in major identity theft and employee snooping incidents. Additionally, the news of HIPAA audits has fueled an industry-wide realignment of priorities with privacy and security compliance at the top of mind for healthcare organizations.

“Driving our market is the recognition among healthcare organizations and patients that private patient data can be compromised and used for fraudulent purposes,” said Kurt Long, chief executive officer of FairWarning. “Our company is laser focused on enabling our customers to proactively thwart patient privacy breaches while meeting specific auditing provisions of HIPAA.”

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HHS gives $49.1 million to 30 states

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON Health and Human Services secretary Michael Leavitt yesterday announced awards of over $49 million in grants to 30 states that provide health insurance to residents who cannot get conventional health coverage because of their health status.

The grants will be used by the states to offset losses that they incurred in the operation of high-risk pools, which are typically state-created non-profit associations that offer health coverage to individuals with serious medical conditions. Grant funds also provide support for disease management for chronic conditions and premium subsidies for individuals with lower incomes. Enrollment in these pools is growing, with more than 200,000 individuals enrolled in state pools.

“These grants will make it more affordable for states to expand access to health care through high risk pools for the uninsured,” Leavitt said. “Individuals who benefit from these pools usually have a history of health problems that make it extremely difficult to find affordable health coverage in the individual market.”

Funds were allocated based on the number of uninsured individuals in each state and the numbers of individuals enrolled in each pool. This year’s grants are in addition to approximately $286 million that states have received since 2003 to support this program.

The 30 states that received grants are as follows: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

The grants to support state high-risks pools are one piece in the Bush Administration’s broad strategy for expanding access to health care for the more than 40 million Americans without health insurance. HHS’ Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services administers the program.

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