HEALTH

Accu-Chek partners with Mylestone Health to enhance iPhone app, Web site

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK The fact that Roche has enhanced its capabilities across its iPhone app platform really only means one thing: Roche has dialed into a new way to reach its users, and it’s a way that is very rapidly growing in market share.

 

And what should be really telling about all of this iPhone action — it’s all opt-in, meaning consumers are actively interested in engaging with the manufacturers of their healthcare products in an effort to better manage their health.

 

Worldwide, mobile phone sales totaled 308.9 million units in the third quarter of 2009, a 0.1% increase compared to the year-ago period, according to research firm Gartner, Inc. Smartphone sales, which would include Apple’s iPhone, surpassed 41 million units in that time frame, up 12.8% compared with the year-ago period.

That suggests just about everybody has a cell phone, and more and more that cell phone is going to be a smartphone. “Smartphones continued to represent the fastest-growing segment of the mobile-devices market and we remain confident about the potential for smartphones in the fourth quarter of 2009 and in 2010,” stated Carolina Milanesi, research director at Gartner, in a press release issued early November.

According to Gartner, here’s how the smartphone market share breaks out: Nokia 39.3%; Research in Motion 20.8%; Apple 17.1%; HTC 6.5%; and Samsung 3.2%.

According to recent poll from ChangeWave, 39% of all Americans polled currently own a smartphone. Of that sample, 77% own either an Apple Palm, or RIM branded device, with more and more leaning toward an Apple iPhone purchase.

Currently, there already are more than 100 health-related applications available for the Apple products, including FDA for iPhone and WebMD Mobile, reaching more than 40 million users.

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American Dental Association petitions FDA to classify, regulate tooth-whitening products

BY Allison Cerra

CHICAGO The American Dental Association asked the Food and Drug Administration to establish appropriate classifications for tooth-whitening chemicals.

Citing concern about the safety of whitening products that are often administered without the benefit of professional consultation or examination by a dentist, the association said that the application of chemically-based tooth whitening or bleaching agents can harm teeth, gums and other tissues in the mouth.

The ADA pointed out that such concerns have prompted many states to prevent application of tooth whitening products in nondental settings.

“The tremendous expansion of products available directly to consumers and application of products in venues such as shopping malls, cruise ships, and salons is troubling since consumers have little or no assurance regarding the safety of product ingredients, doses or the professional qualifications of individuals employed in these non-dental settings,” said ADA pesident Dr. Ron Tankersley and executive director Dr. Kathleen O’Loughlin, in a letter to the agency.

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CDC reports decrease in flu activity

BY Allison Cerra

ATLANTA Although 43 states have reported widespread influenza activity for the week ended Nov. 14, numbers appear to be dropping, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted Friday.

In its weekly situational update, the CDC reported that the number of states reporting widespread activity of the H1N1 virus dropped to 43 from 46 in the past week. Additionally, influenza-like illnesses nationally decreased again to 5.5%. This is the third consecutive week of national decreases after four consecutive weeks of sharp increases.

On a regional level, the percentage of outpatient visits for influenza-like illnesses ranged from 2.6% to 7.9% during week 45, and decreased in all 10 surveillance regions, compared with the previous week. All 10 regions, however, reported a proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illnesses above their region-specific baseline levels (2.3%).

“Influenza is unpredictable, and it is so early in the year to have this much disease. We don’t know if these declines will persist, what the slope will be, whether we’ll have a long decline or it will start to go up again,” said Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Meanwhile, there have been reports of cases that feature a mutated version of the virus, which apparently is resistant to antiviral Tamiflu, making the disease much more severe. Schuchat, however, said the mutation is no reason for alarm.

“I don’t think it has the public health implications that we would wonder about,” she said, noting that some patients have gotten severely ill, including developing pneumonia, after being infected with strains of the virus without the mutation.

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