PHARMACY

Google launches groundbreaking foray into arena of patient health information

BY Jim Frederick

ORLANDO Wielding its titanic scale as the Internet’s leading worldwide information conduit and web portal, Google, Inc., is linking up with such big pharmacy chains as Walgreens and Wal-Mart and other health care providers in a groundbreaking foray into the world of patient records and health information technology. The result could significantly accelerate the nationwide evolution of data-driven health care and shift more decision-making power into the hands of information-empowered patients.

On Thursday, Google chief executive Eric Schmidt announced the launch of Google Health, the company’s much-discussed foray into the field of personal health information and patient-controlled data exchange. Schmidt said the new venture would provide a password-protected, web-based platform through which patients, doctors, pharmacists and medical labs could share personal health information.

The result could be a truly portable system of patient records—a system that Google says would give patients direct access to their own health information, and provide physicians, pharmacies and other health providers a holistic window into a patient’s entire medical history. Privacy concerns aside, such a network could help prevent many prescribing errors, duplicate prescriptions or medical tests or confusion over a patient’s therapy among multiple health providers. Armed with new information, patients could also gain more direct control over the factors that impact their health and wellbeing.

Schmidt said Google is partnering with Walgreens, Wal-Mart, health insurers, hospitals and Quest Diagnostics, among other companies, to create a password-protected online storage and retrieval system for patient health records–-including lab results, prescription records and drug history, physicians’ input and other data. Last week, the company unveiled the first plank of the new venture—a data-sharing alliance with The Cleveland Clinic.

Google’s chief executive officer is insisting the new service will safeguard patients’ health records and put control in the hands of patients themselves. Nevertheless, some privacy advocates have expressed concerns over the potential damage that could arise if the password-protected system is cracked.

Many of the companies allied with Google have yet to formally reveal their own plans for the system. However, Walgreens spokesman Michael Polzin freely described the system’s potential benefit.

“I think this is another step toward engaging the patient and making it easier for them to take control of their health care,” Polzin told Drug Store News. “That’s where health care is heading. Part of controlling the costs in health care is providing patients with access to information.”

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Mylan contemplates selling Dey due to Q3 loss

BY DSN STAFF

PITTSBURGH Mylan, a generic drug maker, has experienced a fiscal third-quarter-loss due to the $1.27 billion write off of acquired research and development related to acquisitions.

Shares for the company fell $1.41, or 11 percent, to $11.74 during aftermarket electronic trading, after closing down 12 cents at $13.15.

According to published reports, the loss for the quarter ended Dec. 31 totaled $1.38 billion. The company is said to possibly sell specialty business Dey LP. Selling Dey; however, will delay the launch of Perforomist, a treatment for emphysema and chronic bronchitis. This delay is predicted to hurt their earnings by 20 to 25 cents per share in 2008 to 2010.

The company is also planning to discontinue manufacturing and research at its facility in Canada, and stop manufacturing products in Puerto Rico. According to published reports, it will also stop research and development at Gerard Laboratories in Ireland and Spain.

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Federal advisory panel recommends flu shot be given to all children

BY Diana Alickaj

ATLANTA A federal advisory panel said Wednesday that all children up to age 18 should get vaccinated against the flu. The only exception was children under six months and those that have serious egg allergies.

Flu shots have usually been recommended to those that are at the highest risk of detrimental effects from the flu, such as children ages 6 months to 5 years, adults 50 and older, and those that have a weak immune system. This year, however, experts suggest that a way to prevent those at risk from being infected, all children, very effective carriers of the influenza virus, should be inoculated.

According to published reports, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices says this year that all children should get vaccinated as soon as possible. Offering flu shots to all children would add about 30 million more children than usual. FluMist, a nasal spray vaccine is also approved for ages 2 to 49, as an alternative to the shot.

The new advisory for flu shots has caused arguments among doctors as to when the vaccines should be available. Some doctors feel that the vaccine should be offered universally, while others are unsure of how every child will get covered with the vaccine.

“We probably will need to have low expectations for coverage in the first few years of implementation” of the ages 5-through-18 recommendation, said Tony Fiore, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Conrol and Prevention.

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