PHARMACY

WellCare Today tackles medication adherence with HealthAssist

BY Alaric DeArment

MORRISTOWN, N.J. A company that develops applications for smartphones has launched a new one that it hopes will help tackle a problem that costs the country billions of dollars a year.

WellCare Today announced Tuesday the launch of HealthAssist, an application for medication adherence and health management available for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch. The application is available for free from Apple’s app store.

The program includes features such as a scheduled text reminder for each medication a user takes, refill alerts, news alerts and a storage system for electronic medical records.

Medication non-adherence costs the U.S. economy $100 billion and claims 125,000 a year, and according to the New England Healthcare Institute, one-third to half of all patients don’t take their medications properly.

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‘Silent strokes’ linked to kidney failure in diabetics

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON Tiny areas of brain damage caused by injury to small blood vessels can signal an increased risk of kidney disease and kidney failure, according to a new study by Japanese researchers.

Publishing in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, researchers led by Takashi Uzu of the Shiga University School of Medicine in Otsu, Japan, included 608 patients with Type 2 diabetes, all initially free of symptomatic stroke, heart disease or kidney disease.

Using magnetic resonance imaging scans of the brain, the researchers found that 29% of the patients had the small areas of brain damage, known as silent cerebral infarction or “silent stroke.” A long-term follow-up of the patients found that those with SCI had higher risks of progressive kidney disease, and compared with those who had normal MRI scans, patients with SCI were about 2.5 times more likely to die or develop end-stage kidney disease.

“Silent cerebral infarction may be a new marker to identify patients who are at risk for declining kidney function,” Uzu said in a statement.

Uzu said that small amounts of the protein albumin present in the urine – a condition known as microalbuminuria – are the most important market to predict the progression of kidney disease in diabetics, but decreased kidney function without microalbuminuria is common in those with Type 2 diabetes. According to the new study, diabetics with SCI were more likely to develop serious kidney disease regardless of the protein condition.

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Decision Resources: Spiriva to remain clinical gold standard as COPD treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

WALTHAM, Mass. A drug from Boehringer Ingelheim and Pfizer will retain Decision Resources’ status as a gold standard of treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease through 2018, according to a report released by the market research firm Tuesday.

While some COPD drugs in development held promise, they lacked the same efficacy, safety and tolerability and delivery features of Spiriva (tiotropium bromide), according to the report, titled “Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: Opportunity Exists for Combination Therapies that Offer Improved Convenience and Outcomes.”

“Our survey of primary care physicians indicates that a drug’s effect on quality of life improvement is the attribute that most influences PCPs’ prescribing decisions in moderate to very severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” Decision Resources analyst Amy Whiting said.

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