Great roundup of pharma digital and behavioral efforts at boosting adherence, including Biogen’s AboveMS patient support program and a lobbying push to let pharmas pay pharmacists for adherence counseling without running afoul of anti-kickback laws! Along with all those smart inhalers, the Otsuka-Proteus smart pill partnership, etc. A meta-analysis of medication reminder text messages found that texts bumped adherence rates up from 50% to 68% across all studies. IBM’s Watson is getting an understudy – the company’s Avicenna software supplements the work of cardiologists and radiologists by reading medical images and charts and suggesting diagnoses and treatments. Here’s how machine learning works according to Google (home of RankBrain). Beyond the “worried well,” wearable fitness trackers could really help people improve their health, if only physicians would start supporting their patients in using them, says connected health expert. UnderArmour’s suite of connected health tracking devices may be half-baked, but it’s part of a persuasive bid to “get users into its growing ecosystem of apps and apparel.” FDA issued a guidance on applying human factors engineering to medical devices (that is, more or less, designing devices with how the user will actually interact with them in mind). The agency is already struggling with a backlog and is openly freaked out about the prospect of a surge of biosimilar applications coming down the pike. And here comes the first Remicade biosimilar. Citizen Shkreli went to Washington. Summoned to testify at a Congressional hearing on drug prices, the “bad boy pharma bro” pled the Fifth while Tweeting – naturally – nasty things about his tormentors, much to the chagrin of his lawyer and colleague, who caught the resulting flak. What a guy. Meanwhile, a trove of Turing board emails revealed some unflattering exchanges around the company’s massive price hike on daraprim. Spooked by unusually horrendous public opinion numbers and an intense turn in the political hot seat, PhRMA is splashing out on a boosterish ad campaign touting how the industry benefits patients – and implicitly or explicitly making the connection between protecting profits and continued innovation. Tellingly, the ads are aimed not at influencing public perception – which the trade group reportedly sees as a lost cause – but at policymakers. A vaccine may be many years off, but several pharmas are working on Zika treatments, including Sanofi, Merck, GSK and a host of startups. There’s also a movement afoot to use gene drives to nix the Aedes mosquito that hosts the virus. A rigorous cost-benefit analysis of a behavioral intervention program for schizophrenia – the sort that you more routinely see applied to prescription drugs – shows how the shift to value is reshaping healthcare in America, and how pill-plus offerings from pharma might be evaluated and reimbursed. Retail pharmacy giants are expected to get into the urgent care game in the next few years. A bunch of big blue chip companies are forming a kind of payer’s collective, pooling their healthcare purchasing resources to demand greater cost transparency from and exert more leverage over providers. It wouldn’t be the first such effort, though. How ExpressScripts is approaching the age of value-based reimbursement: indication-based pricing and partnerships with pharmas, among other things… Novartis’ Keep it Pumping TV spots may be a creative tour-de-force, but the unbranded heart failure awareness campaign in support of Entresto has landed them in hot water with cardiologists who call it alarmist. Valeant entered their Xifaxan “Gut Guy” mascot into the Super Bowl advertising bonanza – a rare move for pharmas, though not for Valeant, which had a spot for Jublia in last year’s big game. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, all about the quantified selfer who tracked his own heartbreak.
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