TeleMed Texts: Innovative App for Android Hearing Technology

hc_watch3Now there’s an app that turns your Android phone into a remote control for your hearing aids! Miracle Ear, a hearing technology company, launched the MEBluConnect Remote App that allows Android phone users to control their hearing technologies on the phone. In combination with the mini MEBlueConnect device, users can conveniently adjust volume or change a channel directly from the app with just a touch of the phone. The Miracle Ear MEBluConnect Remote app works seamlessly with hearing instruments and wirelessly connects hearing aids to many different audio devices such as cell phones, MP3 players, TVs, and other audio sources. The mini MEBluConnect Remote App can be easily downloaded from the Google Play store.

Code of Ethics: Alleged Unethical Behavior in China

Chinese officials last month accused the pharma company GlaxoSmithKline of unethical and illegal behavior in the country. The Ministry of Public Security in China revealed that a probe in Changsha, Shanghai and Zhengzhou found the company allegedly bribed government officials, pharma industry associations and foundations, hospitals and doctors to establish new sales channels and increase drug prices in the country. GlaxoSmithKline also allegedly used fake receipts in unspecified tax violations. Police from Changsha were investigating senior executives from the company. GlaxoSmithKline said it found no evidence of wrongdoing after concluding an investigation into allegations that its sales staff in China was involved in these crimes.

Healthcare Personnel: Patients Recognize “LifeChangers” in Their Midst

The 2013 LifeChanger Award for Nurse Practitioners went to Christine L. Nell-Dybdahl, NP-C, MPH, MSN, Clinical Nurse Director at Emory Center for Heart Disease Prevention in Atlanta, GA. Presented in partnership with Health Monitor Network and the Annual Membership Meeting of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), the LifeChanger Award, a patient-nominated award, recognizes exemplary service to patient and community care by remarkable Nurse Practitioners. The winner of this award is selected from six semifinalists, who are profiled throughout the year in Health Monitor magazine, based on compelling patient nominations from across the country.

Discoveries/Innovations: Breakthrough in Immune System Science

Normally when the immune system detects a foreign pathogen such as a virus or bacteria, the immune system responds by releasing chemicals called chemokines that signal defense cells such as macrophages to destroy the invading cells. In cases of autoimmune or inflammatory diseases, inflammatory defensive response can go out of control damaging the body. Scientists from the University of Arizona discovered a mechanism that may prevent the human immune system from spinning out of control. They found a protein called Protein S, which is present on the surface of T-cells. When Protein S comes into contact with a receptor on dendritic cells, it triggers a signal to the dendritic cell to stop switching on T-cells, causing the immune response to stop spinning out of control. Scientists believe this discovery may be key to developing effective medicine for certain allergies, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Results of the study are published in the scientific journal Immunity.

Patient Pages: Findings from Aetna “What’s Your Healthy?” Study

The online study of 1,800 American adults in the Millennials, GenXers and Baby Boomer generations revealed that each believe that their generation is the healthiest. The study was conducted by Harris Interactive and was part of the “What’s Your Healthy?” (www.WhatsYourHealthy.com) marketing campaign in which people can share what being healthy means to them. Key findings included:

  • Twice as many Baby Boomers (ages 49 to 64), define being healthy as getting recommended screenings or checkups (23%), compared to both GenXers (ages 37 to 48) and Millennials (ages 25 to 36).
  • A higher percentage of Millennials define being healthy as having good eating habits (24%) and exercising (22%), compared with the older generations.
  • Both Millennials and GenXers tend to snack on unhealthy food when dealing with stress (48% and 51%) more frequently than Baby Boomers and Millennials are more likely to drink alcohol when stressed (37%) than the other two generations.

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Trend Setting: Interactions with Tablet-Carrying Sales Reps

A recently released study shed light on one opportunity pharma companies have to improve their communications with physicians. According to Manhattan Research’s new ePharma Physician 2013, which surveyed 1,831 U.S. physicians online in Q2 2013, 54% of physicians agreed that tablets make meetings with sales reps more valuable than those without the devices. However, the study concluded that pharma must understand when tablets can make the detailing experience more interesting, for example, with animations, intuitive navigation and responsive design.

FDA Update

The FDA Defines “Gluten-Free”
The FDA published a new regulation that defines the term “gluten-free” for voluntary food labeling across the food industry, which will help up to three million Americans who have celiac disease, an autoimmune condition that can be effectively managed only by eating a gluten-free diet. The regulation requires that, in order to use the term “gluten-free” on its label, a food must meet all of the requirements of the definition and must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. The rule also requires foods with the claims “no gluten,” “free of gluten,” and “without gluten” to meet the definition for “gluten-free.”

New Approvals
A number of new tests and treatments for infectious disease were approved recently. ViiV Healthcare’s Tivicay (dolutegravir), was approved to treat HIV-1 infection. Tivicay is an integrase strand transfer inhibitor that interferes with one of the enzymes necessary for HIV to multiply. The pill is taken daily in combination with other antiretroviral drugs. Meanwhile, Orgenics, Ltd, an Israeli company, got approval for the first rapid HIV test, called the Alere Determine HIV-1/2 Ag/Ab Combo test, for the simultaneous detection of HIV-1 p24 antigen as well as antibodies to both HIV-1 and HIV-2 in human serum, plasma, and venous or fingerstick whole blood specimens.

The FDA approved the supply of GlaxoSmithKline’s four-strain flu vaccine, Fluarix Quadrivalent, to CDC distribution centers and healthcare providers in the U.S. It is the first flu vaccine for immunization of children (ages three and up) and adults.

Cepheid’s Xpert MTB/RIF Assay was approved for marketing. It is the first FDA-reviewed test that can detect bacteria that causes tuberculosis (TB) and determine if the bacteria contain genetic markers that makes them resistant to rifampin, an important antibiotic for the treatment of TB.

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