Business briefs: Astellas, ADA, AJMC, AARP

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Astellas and Cystokinetics are going into businesses. The companies announced in a joint statement Tuesday that they will collaborate on skeletal muscle activators, for work that will target diseases associated with muscle weakness. Both parties will be exploring muscle activation, but Astellas has the right to develop and market what they come up with. Astellas has also secured exclusive rights to Cytokinetics experimental drug CK-2127107 for non-neuromuscular indications. The two-year collaboration includes an up-front payment of $40 million from Astellas, and Cytokinetics is eligible for up to $450 million in pre-commercialization and milestone payments.

Intense lifestyle changes may reshape waistlines and drive down HbA1c levels, but it will do little to protect the heart, according to an American Diabetes Association study published in the New England Journal of Medicine and reported on by MedPage Today. The study followed 5,145 obese patients with type 2 diabetes for just over nine-and-a-half years. Researchers said the plethora of medications patients were already on to control other conditions—such as statins for cholesterol—limited the cardiovascular benefits that could come from lifestyle changes, since the treatments were already doing part of the work. Researchers said the results indicate that patients without a history of heart disease may have benefited from the lifestyle changes, and noted that positive results associated with such changes include a 14% lower risk of retinopathy and lower HbA1c levels.

The American Journal of Managed Care pushed the idea of pharmacists as caregivers a bit further in its June ADA conference write-up that noted pharmacists can help ease the diabetes crisis by providing one-on-one counseling. Pharmacists-as-providers, as well as increased responsibility for nurse practitioners and physician assistants, has gained increasing traction as the Affordable Care Act implementation progresses. Recent pharmacist expansion moves include the New York State Legislature's move to allow pharmacists to provide meningitis vaccinations, and the Centers for Disease Control's Million Hearts Campaign which seeks to use pharmacists as a way to help patients keep blood pressure under control. AJMC reports that diabetes-coaching studies show that counseling studies could save money and improve the quality of care. Paired with incentives, like reduced co-pays for making coaching appointments, they said researchers have found patient medication adherence hit 58.2%. The ADA recommends sessions last 30 to 60 minutes.

Healthcare reform is coming, and AARP announced Monday that it is working with the Hispanic Federation, National Council of La Raza, Esperanza and the League of United Latin American Citizens, to help Hispanic communities navigate their choices. The combined efforts will include providing resources and training for promotores, who typically provide health education, and in this case, it will be health and insurance information.

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