Injectable drug seen as potential treatment for flu, both seasonal and avian

first_imgOct 2, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – Recent tests suggest that an antiviral drug given by intravenous (IV) or intramuscular (IM) injection could eventually serve as another weapon against influenza, according to results presented at a conference last week.In animal studies, peramivir improved survival in mice and ferrets infected with H5N1 avian flu, according to a news release from BioCryst Pharmaceuticals Inc., Birmingham, Ala., which is developing the drug. The results were presented Sep 30 at the annual Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC) in San Francisco.In addition, in phase 1 clinical studies, IV and IM doses of peramivir produced high blood levels of the drug in human volunteers without causing any adverse events, according to Dr. Charles E. Bugg, PhD, chairman and chief executive of BioCryst.The clinical studies “showed you can achieve high blood levels in humans safely,” Bugg told CIDRAP News in an interview today. The combination of those results with the animal studies is promising, he said.Peramivir is a neuraminidase inhibitor, like the licensed antivirals oseltamivir (Tamiflu), and zanamivir (Relenza). Oseltamivir is an oral drug, while zanamivir is inhaled as a powder. Many countries have stockpiled oseltamivir on the assumption that it will help if the H5N1 virus sparks a pandemic.BioCryst started developing peramivir in 1998 in partnership with Johnson and Johnson, Bugg said. Early studies showed the drug inhibited flu viruses effectively, but when taken orally, its bioavailability was very low, which prompted Johnson and Johnson to pull out of the program.Because injectable peramivir looked promising in animals, the program was resurrected with help from the National Institutes of Health about a year ago, Bugg said. He explained that the company is developing an IV formulation intended for hospital patients and an IM formulation for outpatients.In the animal studies, four groups of mice were infected with an H5N1 virus and then were treated with either a single IM injection of peramvir, five daily IM injections, oral oseltamivir for 5 days, or an IM placebo injection daily for 5 days, according to the news release. The single-injection group had a 70% survival rate and the five-injection group a 80% survival rate, compared with 36% for the placebo group and 70% for the oseltamivir group.In the ferret experiment, one group received a daily IM injection for 5 days, while a second group received an IM placebo daily for 5 days. Eighty-six percent of the treated group survived, versus 43% of the placebo group, according to the news release.Bugg said treatment was started an hour after the animals were infected with the virus. He said additional studies will involve longer time lapses between exposure and the start of treatment.Results of the clinical studies were presented by flu expert Frederick Hayden, MD, of the University of Virginia. Three groups of volunteers received different IV doses of peramivir, and a fourth group received increasing IM doses once a day for 3 days, the company release said. “Preliminary safety results indicate that in the four studies, all doses were well-tolerated with no adverse laboratory events or ECG findings reported,” the statement said.”I think peramivir looks very promising,” said Hayden, as quoted in a Sep 29 Bloomberg News report. “It’s proven to have very good activity in single doses.”In an interview, Hayden told Bloomberg that injecting peramivir into the bloodstream or into muscle can produce blood levels 100 times higher than those seen with oral oseltamivir, now considered the most promising treatment for H5N1 infection.Last January the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave injectable peramivir fast-track status for regulatory approval, according to BioCryst. But Bugg said it would take at least several more years to gain FDA approval.”We’ll do a clinical trial this flu season, and then two more next season,” he said. “We’re looking at several more years.” He said the company will be meeting with the FDA soon to review the program and may have a better idea of the timeline after that.Bugg said plans also call for testing the drug in human H5N1 patients at sites in Thailand and Vietnam and also to make it available in Turkey, which had human cases early this year.”We’ll be trying to collect data from H5N1-infected patients in Southeast Asia in collaboration with the World Health Organization,” he said. “We’ll be on the front line to capture H5N1 if it occurs. But realistically we won’t have enough [patients] for a meaningful statistical analysis.”In a Sep 29 Reuters report, Bugg said peramivir is easier to make than Tamiflu. One Swiss manufacturer can make 1 metric ton of the drug in a month, enough to treat an estimated 8 million people, he said.See also:Oct 2 BioCryst release on peramivirhttp://investor.shareholder.com/biocryst/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=213054last_img read more

With Our Abundant Rainfall and Rivers, Why Are Our People Still Drinking Muddy Water?

first_imgLiberia Water and Sewer (LWSC) Managing Director Charles Allen, Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) Managing Director Joe Mayah, Agriculture Minister (MOA) Florence Chenoweth, Public Works Minister (PW) Gyude Moore, Health Minister (MOH) Walter Gwenigale, Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara Konneh and all other government Agency Heads who deal with the day-to-day livelihood of our people, need to read this Editorial—Why?It is because their work is directly related to the Liberian people’s appreciation or lack of it, of this nation they call their own—Liberia. To this is directly related the question, what is the source of appreciation for and love of one’s own country? The crux of the matter is: can they receive a positive answer to the ancient human question: “What is in it for us?”Yes, what is in Liberia for the people of Millsburg who, since the town’s founding in 1828, have never had a hand pump? Not until a Millsburg daughter, Joyce Raynes Ogunti, a Chicago nurse who, backed by her husband Vahnplah and friends, returned home and gave Millsburg its first hand pump in the town’s 87-year history!Yet Millsburg is only a stone’s throw away from White Plains—the source of LWSC’s water! This identical question—What is in it for us?—can be asked by the people of Malangai, in Bong County’s Zota District, who 50 years after their town’s founding, are still cooking and drinking from a muddy, disease-infested pond. The Daily Observer‘s front page story last Thursday showed in graphic detail the appalling source of drinking water for 1000 Malangaians.We urge LWSC’s Allen to travel to Malangai as soon as possible and quickly relieve that community of the deprivation of safe drinking water. He should go equipped to install several hand pumps that will guarantee the residents safe water close to their dwellings. Although long overdue, the people will appreciate Mr. Allen—or whoever delivers to them year round clean water. The women and children, who are the chief water carriers of their families sometimes walking for a mile or so to fetch water from streams, rivers or a pond like Malangai’s, would be forever grateful for the relief of water spouting from nearby hand pumps. Meanwhile LEC’s Mayah should take notice of what the persistent lack of cheap energy is doing to our forests and green vegetation. Large swathes of the country side are left with a seriously diminishing tree population due to the felling of trees everywhere to make charcoal for people’s household needs. It is incumbent upon Mr. Mayah to make a far more robust demand for budgetary allotment to speed up the provision of cheap electricity to the nation. We must build more mini hydros. From its incipience 89 years ago Firestone has used hydro-electric power from the Farmington, only one of Liberia’s numerous rivers. Yet our government institutions, large and small businesses and dwellings remain tethered (tied) to generators which drain our resources and profits.PW Minister Gyude Moore tours roads under construction but he also needs to visit other areas of the country, particularly this rainy season, and see for himself how the deplorable road conditions are affecting the people’s daily existence. He should then engage his own engineers and the Engineering Battalion of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), buy the necessary equipment to build and maintain more roads throughout the country as PW did in the past. We urge Agriculture Minister Chenoweth to also tour the country and see what our farmers need to grow and produce more food and send agricultural extension agents to encourage and guide farmers. The farmers would appreciate and love her and Liberia or that.The Health Minister and coworkers should use the wonderful opportunity provided by our victory over Ebola to fix, once and for all, our healthcare delivery system. The Health Minister should disguise himself early one morning and go see what the hundreds of pregnant women and thousands of other patients go through daily at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center’s gate. And finally, Minister Konneh should also travel the country and experience first-hand, our people’s living conditions and determine how he can more adequately fund the other officials to fulfill the crying needs of ordinary Liberians throughout the country. When his constant travels abroad to negotiate or sign agreements for funding do not trickle down to the ordinary people, how can they appreciate his or their government’s efforts?If all these officials do what needs to be done to help improve our people’s livelihood, the people would appreciate and love them and their country, and Liberia would finally become a happy, peaceful place to live. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Research Roundup Medicare Part D In 2014 Barriers To Mental Health Care

first_imgEach week, KHN compiles a selection of recently released health policy studies and briefs.Kaiser Family Foundation/Georgetown University/NORC: Medicare Part D: A First Look At Plan Offerings In 2014 Medicare Part D continues to be a marketplace with an array of competing plans offered at a wide range of premiums and benefit designs.  In 2014, Medicare beneficiaries will have a choice of 35 stand-alone PDPs, on average, up by four from 2013. … Beneficiaries receiving Low-Income Subsidies (LIS) will have access to a modestly higher number of plans for no monthly premium in 2014 compared to 2013 … Notable trends for 2014 include a growing share of PDPs using preferred pharmacy networks and adopting more formulary cost-sharing tiers. For example, a majority of PDPs now use preferred pharmacy networks where cost sharing is lower when enrollees use preferred pharmacies and higher outside the preferred network (Hoadley, Cubanski, Hargrave and Summer, 10/10).  Health Affairs: Access And Cost Barriers To Mental Health Care, By Insurance Status, 1999–2010 Although access to specialty care remained relatively stable for people with mental illnesses, cost barriers to care increased among the uninsured and the privately insured who had serious mental illnesses. The rise in cost barriers among those with private insurance suggests that the current financing of care in the private insurance market is insufficient to alleviate cost burdens and has implications for reforms under the Affordable Care Act. People with mental health problems who are newly eligible to purchase private insurance under the act might still encounter high cost barriers to accessing care (Rowan, McAlpine and Blewett, 10/7).Health Affairs/Rand: Accountable Care Organization Formation Is Associated With Integrated Systems But Not High Medical Spending Medicare’s approximately 250 accountable care organizations (ACOs) care for a growing portion of all fee-for-service beneficiaries across the United States. We examined where ACOs have formed and what regional factors are predictive of ACO formation. … We found wide variation in ACO formation, with large areas, such as the Northwest, essentially empty of ACOs, and others, such as the Northeast and Midwest, dense with the organizations. Key regional factors associated with ACO formation include a greater fraction of hospital risk sharing (capitation), larger integrated hospital systems, and primary care physicians practicing in large groups. Area income, Medicare per capita spending, Medicare Advantage enrollment rates, and physician density were not associated with ACO formation (Auerbach et al., 10/7). Health Affairs: Trends Underlying Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Growth For Americans Younger Than Age Sixty-Five During [2007-2011], per capita spending on employer-sponsored insurance grew at historically slow rates, but still faster than per capita national health expenditures. Total per capita spending for employer-sponsored insurance grew at an average annual rate of 4.9 percent, with prescription spending growing at 3.3 percent and medical spending growing at 5.3 percent. Out-of-pocket medical spending increased at an average annual rate of 8.0 percent, whereas out-of-pocket prescription drug spending growth was flat. Growth in the use of medical services and prescription drugs slowed. Medical price growth accelerated, and prescription price growth decelerated (Herrera et al., 10/7). Urban Institute/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Eligibility For Assistance And Projected Changes In Coverage Among states not currently planning to expand Medicaid eligibility, the share of the uninsured eligible for assistance ranges from 34 to 53 percent. In contrast, the share of the uninsured eligible for assistance ranges from 59 to 81 percent among the states that are currently committed to expanding Medicaid under the ACA. Second, we estimate the decrease in the uninsured population under the ACA in each state. Among states not currently expanding Medicaid, we predict the number of uninsured would decrease 28 to 38 percent. Eight states committed to expansion would see the number of uninsured decline by more than half (Buettgens, Kenney, Recht and Lynch, October 2013).Here is a selection of news coverage of other recent research:Reuters: Are Blood Clots After Surgery A Sign Of Hospital QualitySome policymakers have suggested using the number of patients that form blood clots after surgery as a measure of a hospital’s quality. But a new study questions that idea. Researchers found high-quality hospitals and those that regularly check for the complications tend to have higher rates of blood clots than low-quality hospitals and those that don’t look for clots as often (Seaman, 10/7).Modern Healthcare: ACOs More Likely To Be In Markets With Hospital, Doctor Consolidation, Study FindsIn five markets around the country, accountable care organizations were providing care to more than half the Medicare patients in the traditional fee-for-service program, a new study found. In addition, ACOs were more likely to be found in markets with greater consolidation by hospitals and doctors (Evans, 10/7).Reuters: Sicker Medicaid, Medicare Emergency Patients Less ProfitableWhen a patient with private health insurance seeks outpatient care at the emergency room, the sicker he or she is, the more money the hospital stands to make, a new study shows. But the opposite is true for patients with Medicaid or Medicare insurance: the sicker the patient, the less profitable he or she is to the hospital, Dr. Philip Henneman of the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston and his colleagues report in the Annals of Emergency Medicine (Harding, 10/10). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Research Roundup: Medicare Part D In 2014; Barriers To Mental Health Carelast_img read more