PHARMACY

UnitedHealth Group, Comcast launch pilot to evaluate video-on-demand programming for Diabetes Prevention Program

BY Allison Cerra

PHILADELPHIA — UnitedHealth Group is looking to evaluate the effectiveness of using video-on-demand programming to deliver its Diabetes Prevention Program.

The insurance company has tapped Comcast to find participants for the study, which will be test marketed in Philadelphia, and Knoxville, Tenn. Enrollment began on Feb. 13; the first VOD programming will be available Feb. 27.

The two companies said they will evaluate making the Diabetes Prevention Program — group lifestyle change program helps people who are at high risk for developing Type 2 diabetes — available on the Xfinity On Demand platform in communities across the country if the pilot proves successful at helping participants achieve healthier weights and reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The 16-episode Not Me VOD programming will use a reality TV format that follows six adults with prediabetes as they go through the Diabetes Prevention Program. Each VOD episode will feature a health-and-wellness coach leading a class of real participants who are working to reach a healthier weight and reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Between each episode, study participants will practice at home the skills they learn from the program. Study participants also will be given tracking assignments each week and opportunities to put what they learn into action.

“We’re excited to partner with Comcast to deliver this program directly into people’s homes,” said Deneen Vojta, SVP for the UnitedHealth Group Center for Health Reform & Modernization. “Taking on the epidemics of obesity, prediabetes and diabetes requires our deep commitment and most creative thinking, and making the Diabetes Prevention Program available in people’s homes is part of an ongoing effort to bring the program to the broadest audiences possible, in the most convenient and cost-effective ways possible.”


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PHARMACY

Chapman University, KGI to develop school of biopharmacy

BY Allison Cerra

CLAREMONT, Calif. — Chapman University and Keck Graduate Institute are set to establish a school of biopharmacy at the KGI campus in Claremont, Calif.

The school, which is slated to open in fall 2014, will focus on preparing graduate pharmacists for professions in biotechnology and the pharmaceutical industry as well as for modern pharmacy practice.

"This collaboration is a remarkable opportunity," said James Doti, president of Chapman University. "It builds on KGI’s innovative professional master’s and postdoctoral programs and close biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry ties, and takes advantage of Chapman’s strengths in computational sciences and entrepreneurship."

The two universities have begun a national search for an entrepreneurial founding dean. The first classes for the Chapman-KGI School of BioPharmacy will be held on the KGI campus in Claremont, while Chapman pursues construction of a 120,000-sq.-ft. Science Center in Orange, Calif.

"The Chapman-KGI School of BioPharmacy will embrace this change in the profession," said Sheldon Schuster, president and professor of biochemistry at Keck Graduate Institute. "Current advances in genomics and the growing convergence of therapeutics, diagnostics and medical devices are creating new opportunities for pharmacists in the life-sciences industry and modern clinical practice. This new school will help prepare highly qualified individuals to take advantage of those opportunities."


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PHARMACY

Takeda’s investigational diabetes drug helps reduce HbA1C levels

BY Allison Cerra

DEERFIELD, Ill. — An investigational diabetes therapy made by Takeda helped lower HbA1C levels among patients with Type 2 diabetes, the drug maker said.

The mid-stage clinical trial, which included 426 patients, showed TAK-875, a selective agonist of GPR40 — one of the orphan G-protein-coupled receptors expressed in pancreatic islet cells — demonstrated its ability to stimulate insulin in a glucose-dependent manner over a 12-week period, with minimum risk of hypoglycemia. Patients were either given doses ranging from 6.25-mg to 200-mg a day or 4-mg of placebo glimepiride.

"As glucose control in many patients with Type 2 diabetes continues to remain suboptimal, it is important to work to identify new mechanisms of action in an effort to improve treatment options," said Thomas Strack, development therapeutic area head of metabolic at Takeda. "Because of its observed ability to potently stimulate insulin secretion and improve glycemic control with less or no hypoglycemia, these data further support TAK-875 as a potential therapy for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes in the future."

These data were presented at the American Diabetes Association 71st Annual Scientific Sessions and published in The Lancet. The drug now is moving forward into phase-3 clinical development.


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