Company news: Janssen, Quest, IMS Health

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Janssen's treatment for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, Sirturo (bedaquiline), was among the last to make the transition from pipeline to marketable drug in 2012. This is the first drug the FDA has approved to treat multi-drug resistant TB. It was approved under the agency's accelerated approval program, which allows the agency to approve drugs earlier in a testing cycle based on immediate need. The J&J subsidiary is still on the hook for additional studies to confirm Sirturo's clinical benefit and safety. The therapy includes a black box warning that notes the drug could interfere with the heart's rhythm, and that nine patients taking the drug died, compared with two deaths among the placebo group. Drug resistance can be triggered by several factors, including a patient's failure to complete treatment or being given the wrong medication or dose.

Quest Diagnostics announced Monday that it was selling its salivary diagnostics business, OralDNA, to Access Genetics. The company did not disclose the terms, but said in a statement that the move “represents a step in the company's ongoing strategy to refocus its resources on its core diagnostic information services business.”

Telehealth may be a greater part of the future, if docs are assured they will get paid, according to a report by IMS Health's InMedica division. The report noted the CMS policy of penalizing hospitals for readmissions has the potential to be a major driver of increased used of remote monitoring. This is in addition to a traffic management need that will come with an influx of newly insured patients, since it could keep in-office traffic down and provide a lower-fee service. InMedica noted that the catch is that fee-for-service providers have trouble justifying telehealth unless payment didn't depend on seeing a patient in-person. IMS reports that remote patient monitoring rose 22.2% between 2010 and 2011. Although device revenues rose only 5% between 2010 and 2011, they were up 18% between 2011 and 2012, and InMedica predicts use and sales could grow 55% worldwide in 2013. Researchers also found major opportunity among the post-acute care market, “where healthcare providers are more willing to pay for telehealth if it's part of a total post-acute care model.”

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