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17th December 2009
Siemens Healthcare has introduced the IM-RealART Solution, which combines the Artiste Solution linear accelerator, the 550TxT treatment table, the CTVision System for diagnostic CT and the RealART planning system from Prowess Inc. for adaptive radiotherapy.
Using IM-RealART, treatment plans can be quickly modified to take into account changes in the shape and position of tumours while the patient is on the treatment table. This means that both the radiation fields and dose are recalculated before the next fraction is irradiated. Using the 160MLC multileaf collimator, the radiation field is accurately confined to the tumour, saving the surrounding healthy tissue.
By incorporating CTVision, IM-RealART provides diagnostic image quality directly in the treatment room using a CT scanner running on rails. While the patient lies on the treatment table, the latest scans can be compared to the original treatment planning scans. If the shape or the position of the tumour has changed significantly, the treatment plan can be adapted immediately. The recalculation to correct the shape of the radiation field and dose can be performed in approximately seven minutes.
IM-RealART can also be combined with the IM-Confident Plan consisting of Artiste with the 160MLC and an intelligent treatment planning software. These components help to reduce the treatment time required for Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) to five minutes or less.
“IM-RealART and IM-Confident are designed to offer high precision therapy to meet individual patient needs plus make treatment simpler and more efficient,” said Lawrence Foulsham, Product Manager for Molecular Imaging and Oncology at Siemens Healthcare.
“Using innovative technologies, tumours are treated with pinpoint accuracy while the latest software and imaging ensure that planning, replanning and therapy take place as swiftly as possible.”
16th December 2009
After five years of successfully using multiple Cerner Millennium solutions, Newham University Hospital NHS Trust is extending the capabilities of its electronic patient record (EPR) system by using the Cerner Experience Centre to identify additional opportunities for clinical process improvement.
“One of the reasons Newham chose Cerner as the clinical information systems provider was because Cerner would be able to help move beyond simply implementing an EPR platform and instead help us use the EPR to optimise clinical processes and continue to improve patient safety,” said Michaela Morris, Chief Operating Officer of Newham University Hospital NHS Trust.
“Our clinicians and staff are happy with the Cerner Millennium solutions in place at Newham and used the Cerner Experience Centre approach to implement additional functionality beyond what exists in our solution set.”
Newham has realised numerous benefits from using Cerner Millennium solutions during the past five years, including:
By working together with Cerner through the Cerner Experience Centre model, Newham will focus on realising additional benefits beyond those already achieved. Specifically, Newham will work with Cerner experts to develop plans to achieve benefits related to:
“The Cerner Experience Centre enables Trusts to find additional ways to maximise their Cerner Millennium solutions as the healthcare environment is constantly changing around them,” said Jake Sorg, UK Solutions Centre vice president.
“By staying connected with Cerner through the Cerner Engagement Model, Newham University Hospital will be able to realise further benefits and find new ways to use technology to help achieve its organisational imperatives.”
The Cerner Experience Centre brings the collective experience and best recommendations of Cerner Millennium users directly to Trusts to help assess utilisation of solution capabilities and to develop plans to achieve further process and clinical improvements through the use of Cerner solutions.
Through this approach, Cerner doctors, nurses, pharmacists, software architects, EPR team, and support staff work directly with Trusts to identify key organisation imperatives, such as financial savings or patient safety initiatives, and aligns them with the capabilities of Cerner Millennium solutions to achieve the desired outcome.
The Experience Centre is an extension of the Cerner Engagement Model, which provides continuous support and learning opportunities to Trusts throughout their healthcare information technology (HIT) journey.
“Working closely with Cerner has been critical to the success of our HIT initiatives at Newham,” Morris said.
“The continuous support we’ve received through direct engagement has enabled us to move beyond mere adoption of the system into achievement of benefits that are helping us improve patient care.”
Newham has created a close alignment between its use of Cerner Millennium solutions and the Trust’s strategic imperatives of Board Capability and Governance Arrangements, Sustainability of Performance and Service Configuration to increase operational efficiency and build a competitive advantage.
Cerner helped Newham build benchmarking metrics via reporting tools, complete value reviews to enhance the user experience and improve satisfaction by setting goals and objectives to deliver true value through qualitative and quantitative benefits.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is currently appraising the use of pemetrexed for the maintenance treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer.
In its draft guidance, published today (17 December 2009), NICE does not recommend pemetrexed. However, this draft guidance has been issued for consultation and the manufacturer now has an opportunity to consider and respond to comments made by the independent Appraisal Committee.
Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers in the UK, with around 38,000 people diagnosed every year. Maintenance treatment after first-line treatment is a new concept in lung cancer care and is not currently practised in the UK.
The goals of maintenance treatment are to prolong the period of remission after first-line chemotherapy and increase the likelihood of being able to receive second-line chemotherapy
Dr Carole Longson, Health Technology Evaluation Centre Director at NICE said: “In September NICE recommended pemetrexed as a first line treatment for non-small-cell lung cancer and we are disappointed not to have been able to recommend the drug as a maintenance treatment as well. The committee felt that there were many uncertainties in the data and analysis provided by the manufacturer. These uncertainties led the committee to conclude that, on current evidence, the cost of the drug related to the benefits it brings means that pemetrexed would not be a good use of NHS money.
“The next step in the NICE process is for the manufacturer to consider the Committee’s comments and respond to its concerns.”
15th December 2009
UCB is pleased to announce the signing of its new €1.5 billion revolving credit facility.
The purpose of the facility is to refinance the Company’s EUR 4 billion banking facility arranged in connection with the 2006 acquisition of Schwarz Pharma, which has since amortised to EUR 3.3 billion and is due to mature in October 2011.
The new facility has a three year maturity and a one year extension option.
The margin and other terms and conditions are customary for similar investment grade loan facilities.
Prior to arranging this new facility, UCB has successfully issued three bonds with different maturities raising EUR 1.75 billion in total from debt capital markets. The proceeds from these bonds will also be used to refinance the existing credit facility.
Detlef Thielgen, Chief Financial Officer of UCB, commented, “We are very pleased to have successfully completed this new facility. It is the next step in our strategy to firmly establish UCB as a global biopharma industry leader. The fact that all banks originally invited into this transaction have signed up to the agreement, underscores the confidence which the loan and debt capital markets have shown in UCB throughout this refinancing process.”
The 2009 Frost & Sullivan European Product Quality Leadership Award in the Ultrasound Market is conferred on SonoScape. The award recipient has effectively analyzed existing market challenges – the need for special features, pricing, and portability – and introduced the S8 hand-carried ultrasound (HCU).
The performance of this high-end colour Doppler HCU compares with that of a regular, high-end, cart-based echo ultrasound system.
“The S8 is versatile in performance,” notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Shriram Shanmugham.
“It uses a 15 MHz linear transducer, 512 super high density transducers, and is the only echocardiography system that also offers 4D imagining capability. None of the company’s competitors offers such a combination of 4D and high-end echocardiography technology affording portability.”
In terms of product reliability, S8 is distinguished by its tranesophageal echocardiography (TEE) and paediatric TEE capability. Uniquely, the S8 offers TEE at a multi-plane level, allowing a physician to better analyse the generated image – especially when the patient is a child.
The S8 has an exceptional product design, both in terms of physical appeal and ergonomics. The design allows two transducers to be connected simultaneously, which is matched by only one other competitor.
“However, the S8 is the smallest in design and being compact allows for easy portability,” remarks Shanmugham.
“Moreover, its image quality is superior because SonoScape is the undisputed pioneer when it comes to colour enhanced ultrasound image detection.”
Shanmugham adds that S8’s ultimate image quality stems from the adoption of 12 cutting-edge technological features that include micro-scan, IMT, and multi-beam processing.
Product usability is another strong point of the S8. The product offers superior special attributes, offering 12 features despite being a hand carried ultrasound. Some of the prominent special features it offers include: volumetric 4D imaging, multi-plane adult and pediatric TEE, real-time matching technology and panoramic imaging. Notwithstanding these multiple features, its user-interface is designed in a simple format and hardly any training is required for its use.
“SonoScape’s administration, R&D initiatives, marketing and sales are concerned entirely with ultrasound,” states Shanmugham.
“As a result, SonoScape offers the lowest pricing for its superior quality products.”
For instance, the S8 is 25 to 30 per cent less expensive than its closest competitor. In spite of its low price, the S8 excels in image quality, design, compactness and special features.
“Owing to its manufacturing facilities in China, SonoScape is able to provide the S8 at a much lower cost, without compromising on features or image quality,” explains Shanmugham.
“In the long run, SonoScape’s product line will add value to clients, both in terms of quality assurance and in meeting healthcare budget initiatives.”
For the Product Quality Leadership Award, the following criteria were used to benchmark the award recipient’s performance against key competitors: product performance, product reliability, product design, product usability and perceived value.
Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognize companies in a variety of regional and global markets for demonstrating outstanding achievement and superior performance in areas such as leadership, technological innovation, customer service, and strategic product development. Industry analysts compare market participants and measure performance through in-depth interviews, analysis, and extensive secondary research in order to identify best practices in the industry.
14th December 2009
As a nursing shortage looms in the NHS, Trusts are seeking out new ways to help increase nursing productivity. One way to improve nursing productivity is to use technology to decrease the amount of time nurses spend on routine tasks. By eliminating the need for nurses to manually document data generated by healthcare solutions like blood pressure monitors and vital signs machines, the Cerner CareAware MDBus solution can help free up nurses’ time, allowing them to focus on patient care.
“Technology that allows Trusts to connect healthcare devices to the electronic health record like the Cerner CareAware MDBus solution could be very beneficial for nursing productivity and patient safety,” said Christine Eddy, Head of Patient Services at Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. “Any technology that can help nurses manage their busy work load and help them provide better care to patients is worth investing in.”
The Cerner CareAware MDBus solution is a healthcare information technology (HIT) architecture that facilitates connections between medical devices and the EMR to create a Single Source of Truth for patient information, making healthcare safer and more efficient. The Cerner CareAware MDBus reduces the need for nurses to gather data and manually enter it into the EMR and reduces the likelihood of dangerous data-transcription errors, creating a safer environment for patients.
“As the NHS seeks out ways to cope with nursing shortages and funding shortfalls, technology like the Cerner CareAware MDBus solution has been proven to help lessen the impact of these problems through improvements in efficiency and productivity by reducing the amount of time nurses spend on manual data entry,” said Donald Trigg, Cerner Vice President and General Manager in the UK.
Healthcare organisations that have used the Cerner CareAware MDBus solution have realised numerous benefits related to nursing efficiency and patient safety including:
Improved nursing efficiency. Instead of taking minutes for clinicians to enter data gathered by medical equipment into the EMR, using the Cerner CareAware MDBus takes seconds for a nurse to verify that the data was sent from the equipment to the EMR. This has allowed nurses to reallocate as much as three hours per shift to care directly for patients.
Decreased time spent troubleshooting device connectivity. IT teams typically spend several hours each week troubleshooting problems with healthcare equipment. Since the Cerner CareAware MDBus solution also reports information about healthcare solution performance along with clinical data, IT teams can reduce the amount of time they spend troubleshooting equipment problems from hours to mere minutes each week.
Improved patient-to-device association. Typically, clinicians manually record in the EMR the different items of equipment connected to the patient. By automating that process with the Cerner CareAware MDBus solution, nurses are able to verify that the correct equipment is associated with the patient in seconds, instead of the several minutes manual equipment association takes.
Reduced chance of medical errors due to transcription errors. Clinicians often jot down information gathered by healthcare devices on a piece of paper to record into the EMR later. If the data is incorrectly transcribed – a decimal in the wrong place or a number left off – or if that slip of paper is lost, it can lead to a medical error and potentially patient harm. The Cerner CareAware MDBus solution helps reduce the chance of such transcription errors occurring.
Cerner works directly with healthcare device companies around the world to better facilitate the transfer of data from devices to integrate to the medical record via the CareAware™ solution connectivity architecture.
The Cerner CareAware MDBus solution is currently available for use by NHS Trusts. Those interested in learning more can see the solution in action at the Cerner Collaboration Centre. The Collaboration Centre is a simulated environment of defined care settings that showcase current and future state offerings, helping hospital trusts to think through strategic issues, explore Cerner solutions and services and refine key deliverables over the lifecycle of a project.
Evolva Holding SA (formerly known as Arpida Ltd) today announced the final closing of its Series B financing round, the completion of its merger with Evolva SA, the change of the name from Arpida Ltd to Evolva Holding SA and the listing of its shares issued in connection with the merger.
On 11 December 2009, the merger was successfully completed, whereby Evolva SA became a wholly owned subsidiary of Arpida Ltd, and Arpida Ltd subsequently changed its name to Evolva Holding SA.
The 117,836,490 registered shares in Evolva Holding SA, which were newly issued on 11 December 2009 in connection with the merger, are listed on the main standard of the SIX Swiss Exchange as of today and rank pari passu with the existing already listed 21,094,104 registered shares in Evolva Holding SA.
As a result, a total of 138,930,594 registered shares in Evolva Holding SA are currently listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange. The newly issued shares in Evolva Holding SA will be subject to a lock-up agreement until 14 December 2010.
The election of the new members of the Board of Directors by the Extraordinary General Meeting of Arpida Ltd of 26 November 2009 took effect at the closing of the merger. As of today, the Board consists of the following members: Prof Dr Erich Schlick (Chairman), Mr Jean-Philippe Tripet (vice-Chairman), Mr Neil Goldsmith, Dr André Lamotte, Dr Jacques Mallet, Mr Michel Pettigrew and Ms Ingelise Saunders.
As announced earlier, the CEO and CFO of Arpida Ltd. have stepped down at the closing of the merger. The management team has been replaced by that of Evolva SA.
Prior to the merger, Evolva SA completed its Series B financing round, pursuant to which it raised a total of CHF 44 million. The first part of the Series B financing round, which was announced on 22 October 2009, yielded CHF 28 million. The second part closed on 11 December 2009 and yielded an additional CHF 16 million.
New investor Entrepreneurs Fund and six existing investors (Novartis Bioventures, Dansk Innovation, Auriga Partners, Wellington Partners, BioMedInvest and Vinci Capital) participated in the second part of the Series B financing round.
In addition to the funds raised in the Series B financing round, Evolva received a firm commitment (together with an initial release of funds) to invest CHF 5 million in Evolva Biotech Private Ltd (Evolva’s Indian subsidiary) from Ventureast Trustee Company Private Limited.
The now available funds will allow the Evolva group to progress its clinical compounds through phase II proof-of-concept trials over the next 2-3 years, in particular EV-077 (cardio-renal indications), EV-086 (anti-fungal) and EV-075 (antiviral).
9th December 2009
The effectiveness of PSA (prostate-specific antigen) screening on reducing prostate cancer mortality has been given a boost with new data from the ERSPC (European Randomised Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer). This shows the true impact to be far higher than previously reported – up to 31%.
Preliminary European Randomised Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer (ERSPC) findings* showed that screening reduced prostate cancer deaths by 20%. This latest ERSPC analysis** corrects for non-attendance and contamination to assess the effectiveness of PSA testing in those men actually screened.
From 1992, the ERSPC study randomized 162,000 men, aged 55 to 69, in seven European countries to either a screening arm or a control group.
Those screened were given a blood test to detect PSA levels: if it was 3.0ng/ml or more, they were offered a biopsy. Screening took place on average every four years. Mean follow-up was nine years.
In any randomised trial, some in the screening arm do not attend and some in the control group inadvertently receive a PSA test (contamination). Contamination makes it difficult to detect differences. This is believed to be one reason why the Prostate Lung, Colon and Ovarian (PLCO) study failed to detect any significant reduction in mortality.
PSA cut off level of 3ng/ml is safer threshold for reducing biopsies
Using retrospective data from the Dutch arm, the ERSPC has shown that using a screening algorithm – an individual risk assessment – alongside PSA testing can reduce the number of unnecessary biopsies. PSA testing is sensitive but not specific, so elevated levels do not necessarily imply cancer. Approximately 30% of detected cancers are non-aggressive – ‘indolent’ or slow growing.
Their findings, published in January 2010’s European Urology suggest that a PSA cut off level of 3ng/ml combined with an individual risk assessment would reduce biopsies by 33%. The majority of cancers potentially missed would be indolent, so there would be no benefit from active treatment. Increasing the PSA cut-off level from 3 to 4 ng/ml may save a similar number of biopsies, but will miss more clinically significant cancers.
8th December 2009
Custom Procedure Trays (CPT) offer off-the-shelf convenience to hospitals, reduce costs and lead to more efficient operating rooms (OR) with faster turnaround times.
The general market opinion is that once hospitals have converted to CPT, they will never convert back. Many existing customers have not only experienced the convenience of using custom packs, but have also come to realise the true cost-benefit of these trays.
Customers are dependent on continued supply of custom packs to run an efficient OR and the loyalty of these customers will continue, even amidst difficult economic times.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan
Western European Markets for Custom Procedure Trays, finds that the OR CPT market earned revenues of $261.3 million in 2008 and estimates this to reach $776.4 million in 2015. The following technologies are covered in this research: angiography CPT, ophthalmology CPT, operating room CPT and anaesthesia room CPT.
“Growth in the construction of private clinics, especially orthopaedic clinics, will contribute to solid revenue growth rates in this market,” notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Jolize Gerber.
“Orthopaedic procedures have a very high penetration level of CPT due to the fact that orthopaedic surgeries require many components. This fact, coupled with the need for speed and a sterile environment, has facilitated the rapid adoption of trays.”
General surgery and cardiovascular surgery are further considered to be high-growth areas for OR CPT.
The enforcement of stricter infection-control measures has, in recent years, caused many central sterile supply departments (CSSD) in hospitals to close down. This has greatly benefited the uptake of CPTs.
“CPTs ensure compliance with safety standards set by the Medical Device Directive, as well as contribute to the reduction of any nosocomial and iatrogenic infections in the OR,” says Gerber.
“Clinical studies have proved that CPTs can reduce infection rates by as much as 11 per cent.”
The uptake of OR CPTs has been greatly driven by this factor as the prevention of intra- and post-operative wound infections is an essential requirement during surgery. Nosocomial infections can extend a hospital stay by several days, even in the most favourable scenarios, and constitute an additional cost factor for insurance companies. The use of CPTs subsequently limits costs to hospitals by ensuring compliance with safety standards and lowering the risk of infections.
Combating pricing pressures and maintaining profitability is one of the main challenges in this market. The prices of custom procedure trays reduce by an average of three per cent annually.
Increased competition in the market and stricter price controls from procurement entities are leading to greater price sensitivity in the market. Furthermore, global economic instability adds to the rising costs of production and transportation, making it difficult to maintain profitable margins.
“This poses a challenge to CPT providers in terms of controlling their costs whilst simultaneously offering a customised solution, catering to individual end-user requirements,” remarks Gerber.
“CPT providers will have to find a “sweet spot” between customising trays according to end-user preferences and standardising trays to keep control of their own costs.”
Customising each component of a pack according to end-user preference becomes capital intensive and creates difficulties for a company’s cash flow. One way to address this problem is by standardising basic commodity items in packs. Furthermore, procuring or outsourcing the production of non-woven components and basic commodity items from more affordable sources in China and Asia Pacific can also assist in lowering costs.
“Although these efforts might take the pressure off companies for some time, it will not be sustainable,” cautions Gerber.
“CPT providers will subsequently have to become more pro-active at offering a pack design as opposed to costing a design that the customer proposes. Herein lies significant cost reduction potential for the customer while also assisting pack providers.”
7th December 2009
In Cell Art of France, a biotechnology company involved in macromolecular drug-delivery systems (siRNA, DNA and proteins), has announced that it has expanded its research collaboration agreement with Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi Aventis Group, in order to evaluate In Cell Art nanocarrier technologies in the context of Sanofi Pasteur’s vaccines programme.
“In Cell Art is very pleased to enter into this expanded agreement with Sanofi Pasteur, a world leader in human-health vaccines. This agreement highlights In Cell Art’s breakthrough nanocarrier technologies for new vaccine development,” explain Chloé Bellocq, CEO, and Bruno Pitard, co-founder of In Cell Art.
The ICA614 nanocarrier – a breakthrough DNA synthetic formulation – features unique, efficient and industrial characteristics, including a dramatic enhancement of the immunogenicity of plasmid DNA-encoding tumour or pathogen-derived antigens, a reduction of the dose of plasmid DNA, and an excellent safety profile.
The ICA614 nanocarrier is currently in use, or being tested, by major players in vaccine development, as it represents an important step towards the development of DNA vaccines. In Cell Art has, furthermore, demonstrated that the ICA614 nanocarrier can increase the immunogenicity of subunit vaccines with recombinant proteins.
In the absence of a recombinant antigen, ICANtibodies® allows, from an in silico DNA antigenic sequence, the production of the most ambitious antibodies against any chosen antigen. ICANtibodies® is particularly suitable for high throughput antibody screening using a multivalent immunisation protocol, thus leading to the rapid identification of antibodies of therapeutic or diagnostic interest.
In Cell Art is also pursuing highly promising approaches in the field of DNA-based therapeutic and prophylactic vaccines, with successful studies in animal models of cancers and infectious diseases. In Cell Art works in partnership with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and grants licences for its vaccine formulations.
With ongoing R&D programmes in the fields of oncology, as well as cardiovascular and anti-infectious diseases, In Cell Art also works closely with companies that are active in the development of RNAi therapeutic products for interference with the expression of targeted disease-associated genes. In Cell Art grants licences for its nanocarriers.
Finally, In Cell Art is commercialising ICAFectin®441 and ICAFectin®442, which are DNA and siRNA transfection reagents for primary and stem cells.