Chimerix

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Just seven months ago, executives at the biotechnology company Chimerix were receiving death threats after refusing to provide its experimental drug to a 7-year-old boy who was close to dying from a viral infection.

The refusal set off a fierce social media campaign and subjected the company to unfavorable news coverage. Chimerix quickly found a way to provide the drug to the boy, Josh Hardy of Virginia, who then recovered.

Now Chimerix is back in the news, but in a more positive way. That same antiviral drug has suddenly become the medicine of choice for Ebola, being used on an emergency basis to treat both the Liberian patient in Dallas andthe NBC News cameraman in Nebraska.

What is remarkable is that the drug, with the unwieldy name brincidofovir, has never before been tested in people with Ebola, and there is not even any data available showing that it works in animals infected with the virus.

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Zoeticx

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Zoeticx has written middleware which can unify data from any current provider into a single common format. Their newly released API provides easy access to that middleware, enabling developers to easily write applications against multiple databases storing records in different formats.

There are currently over 350 competing formats for storing medical records electronically.

Zoeticx’s middleware, known as the Patient-Clarity platform, resides in the cloud. It uses gateways to communicate with the different Electronic Medical Record (EMR) formats, and transforms them into a custom, common format provided by Zoeticx. Currently the five most common formats are supported — Epic, Cerner, Allscripts Sunrise, Allscripts Professional, and OpenVistA. The gateways are designed against a shared interface, making it easy to add more formats. Read more

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When Jennifer Hopper raced to the emergency room after her husband, Craig, took a baseball in the face, she made sure they went to a hospital in their insurance network in Texas. So when they got a $937 bill from the emergency room doctor, she called the insurer, assuming it was in error.

But the bill was correct: UnitedHealthcare, the insurance company, had paid its customary fee of $151.02 and expected the Hoppers to pay the remaining $785.98, because the doctor at Seton Northwest Hospital in Austin did not participate in their network. Read more

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A drug used to treat advanced breast cancer has had what appears to be unprecedented success in prolonging lives in a clinical trial, researchers reported on Sunday.

Patients who received the drug — Perjeta, from the Swiss drug maker Roche — had a median survival time nearly 16 months longer than those in the control group.

That is the longest amount of time for a drug used as an initial treatment for metastatic breast cancer, the researchers said, and it may be one of the longest for the treatment of any cancer. Most cancer drugs prolong survival in patients with metastatic disease for a few months at most. Metastasis means the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Read more

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Like many clinics nationwide, my surgery office recently started using electronic medical records. Headaches and glitches abound, but over all, it has been a godsend: no more lost forms, deciphering lousy handwriting or waiting endlessly for someone to “pull the chart” if you want to look up a patient. Everything’s in one centralized computer system, accessible anywhere.

This brave new world, however, has created a singularly embarrassing moment at the end of all my new patient encounters. After saying hello, performing a history and physical examination, talking over the details of surgery and answering questions, I fire up the computer and start entering orders and preparing an after-visit summary for the patient to take home. Read more

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Robin Evans said that while she does not support the senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes or President Obama she has taken advantage of the Affordable Health Care act. 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Affordable Care Act allowed Robin Evans, an eBay warehouse packer earning $9 an hour, to sign up for Medicaid this year. She is being treated for high blood pressure and Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder, after years of going uninsured and rarely seeing doctors.

“I’m tickled to death with it,” Ms. Evans, 49, said of her new coverage as she walked around the Kentucky State Fair recently with her daughter, who also qualified for Medicaid under the law. “It’s helped me out a bunch.”

But Ms. Evans scowled at the mention of President Obama — “Nobody don’t care for nobody no more, and I think he’s got a lot to do with that,” she explained — and said she would vote this fall for Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and minority leader, who is fond of saying the health care law should be “pulled out root and branch.”

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@GoAfricaNetwork

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NEW DELHI — The maker of one of the costliest drugs in the world announced on Monday that it had struck agreements with seven Indian generic drug makers to sell lower-cost versions of its $1,000-a-pill Hepatitis C drug in poorer countries.

Gilead Sciences, the California-based drug maker, also said it will begin selling its own version of the drug in India and other developing countries at a fraction of the price it charges in the United States.

The moves are intended to provide greater access to the medicine Sovaldi for most of the nearly 180 million infected worldwide with Hepatitis C who do not live in rich countries. Some 350,000 people die every year of Hepatitis C infections, most of them in middle- and low-income nations.

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Although few medical experts realize it, part of the population in West Africa is immune to the Ebola virus, according to virologists who specialize in the disease.

Assuming they are correct, and if those people can be identified, they could be a great help in fighting the outbreak. Immune persons could safely tend the sick and bury the dead just as smallpox survivors did in the centuries before smallpox vaccine.

Also, antibodies could be harvested from their blood to treat new Ebola victims.

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Two potential vaccines against the deadly Ebola virus ravaging West Africa could be available as soon as November and would first be given to health care workers most at risk of exposure to the disease there, the World Health Organization announced on Friday.

The organization also announced that blood from recovered Ebola patients and serums derived from that blood should be used to treat the sick, and it said treatment centers should quickly begin testing other experimental therapies to combat the viral disease, which has escalated into a devastating health crisis.

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The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved the first of an eagerly awaited new class of cancer drugs that unleashes the body’s immune system to fight tumors.

The drug, which Merck will sell under the name Keytruda, was approved for patients with advanced melanoma who have exhausted other therapies.

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