Friday, February 5, 2010

M&As Expected to Increase in 2010

As the credit markets begin to ease, mergers and acquisitions will likely accelerate this year, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a leading global auditing firm.

M&A activity in 2010 will be driven by strategic buyers who have both the funding and the vision necessary to capitalize on acquisition targets that offer opportunities for revenue growth and enhanced productivity. The most attractive sectors for these “mergers of productivity” include:

• Consumer products
• Technology
• Energy
• Financial services
• Automotive
• Healthcare
• Entertainment and media

PwC sees financing as the key stumbling block impeding M&A activity next year, increasing the pressure on middle market deals.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Mona Lisa’s Mysterious Smile: A Symptom of High Cholesterol?

For more than five centuries, Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, Mona Lisa(also known as La Gioconda) has provoked speculation and controversy. Who was she, really? What accounted for her mysterious smile? Is she even smiling at all?

Now, Vito Franco , a professor of pathological anatomy at the University of Palermo, has come up with an entirely new explanation ( for the unique appearance of this famous lady: she’s suffering from xanthelasma, a condition in which cholesterol accumulates just under the skin; it’s often associated with hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol).

Franco said that he saw clear signs of the hypercholesterolemia-related condition around Mona Lisa's left eye, according to a recent article in TIME. He also found evidence of a lipoma, a fatty-tissue tumor, on her right hand

“Illness is part of the body, not a metaphysic or supernatural dimension,” Franco told reporter Laura Anello of La Stampa. “And so, in revealing their physicality, the people depicted expose their human vulnerability independently from our awareness of the authors of the work.”

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Biotech Breakthrough: Going “Back to Nature” for Drug Delivery

A team of researchers at the University of California-Santa Barbara has announced a major breakthrough in healthcare — the development of artificial red blood cells (RBCs) that look and act like natural ones — that offers new product development opportunities for the pharma industry and the healthcare consumer, according to Scientific American (via Neatorama).

Also known as erythrocytes, red blood cells — the tiny, concave disks that deliver oxygen to the body’s tissues — account for approximately a quarter of the cells in the human body. To make RBCs in the lab, Dr. Samir Mitragotri and his colleagues started with spheres of biodegradable polymer, collapsed them into disk shapes, layered them with proteins and then dissolved away the polymer, to leave soft, strong, flexible shells — the same diameter as authentic red blood cells — which can squeeze through capillaries smaller than their own diameter, just like the real thing.

What’s more, they can carry substances (e.g., an anticoagulant or some other pharmaceutical) just like real RBCs do, making this advance in biotechnology a promising new frontier in drug delivery systems, as well.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Insurance, Trust + the Free Market System

According to the IBM Institute for Business Value, “The insurance industry suffers from a general lack of trust — the ‘animosity issue.’” In fact, only 41% of U.S. customers agree with the statement that “insurance companies can be completely trusted.”

So, I was very interested when I saw a piece on Boing Boing on the “anti-universal-health-care” movement which ultimately led me to Bill Moyers’ interview of Wendell Potter on PBS. A former VP of public relations at Cigna, Potter was talking about the “dirty tricks” used by the insurance industry to fight universal healthcare.

“The [insurance] industry has always tried to make Americans think that government-run systems are the worst thing that could possibly happen to them, that if you even consider that, you're heading down on the slippery slope towards socialism,” Potter said. “We shouldn't fear government involvement in our health care system. There is an appropriate role for government.”

I say, let the free market compete — and if government comes in, they will compete, too.

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Technology Is Changing Patients’ Healthcare Experience

Patients who use the internet to find health-related information say it’s having a significant impact on the way they care for themselves and others, according to Navigating the New Health Care Delivery System, a study conducted by the Pew Internet Project in partnership with the California HealthCare Foundation.

While the final report is not out yet, Pew’s Susannah Fox has previewed some of the findings, including the following interesting tidbits:

• 8 out of 10 internet users — or 61% of U.S. adults — have looked online for health information.

• While the vast majority of people with a health question want to consult a health professional, the second most popular choice is friends and family. Third choice: the internet and books.

• 41% of “e-patients” have read someone else's commentary or experience about health or medical issues on an online news group, website or blog.

• One-quarter of e-patients have consulted rankings or reviews of doctors or other providers online.

• One-quarter of e-patients have consulted rankings or reviews online of hospitals or other medical facilities.

• While online health research does not replace traditional sources of health information, the Pew Internet Project finds that e-patients are using the internet to reinforce and supplement traditional sources of care.

It’s not surprising then, that “the majority of consumers want to share decision-making with their doctor. In fact, only 20% are content to let their doctor control those decisions, according to the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions in its 2008 Survey of Health Care Consumers.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tough Times Ahead for the Healthcare Sector?

According to a report published recently in Health Affairs, national health care spending grew at 6.1% in 2007 — its lowest rate of growth since 1998 — mainly as a consequence of slower spending on prescription drugs.

What’s more, IMS Health, a leading provider of market intelligence to the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, reports that it has cut its estimate for growth of U.S. pharma sales to two percent or less this year … a significant decline from earlier forecasts of four to five percent.

The main causes of this deceleration in growth: fewer blockbusters, more competition from generics and consumers on a tighter budget.

But there’s no reason to throw a pity party for pharmaceutical and healthcare companies just yet. According to an article by Robert Pear in The New York Times, “In recessions, when the economy contracts, health spending usually continues to increase. “ Therefore, it’s likely that healthcare expenditures will increase their share of the nation’s GED during the tough economic times that lie ahead.

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Monday, January 5, 2009

The Sorry State of the Nation’s Health Care

Did you know that 67 percent of Americans are overweight? That 40 percent get no exercise? Or that a whopping 96 percent of Americans don’t eat enough vegetables? Even more frightening is the fact that the current generation of American children may be the first ever to have a shorter life span than their parents.

Americans paid out a record 16 percent of our GDP (or $2 trillion) for health care in 2008 … making us the world’s biggest healthcare spender, on a per capita basis, according to a recent article by TIME reporter Alice Park. Notwithstanding the huge sums we throw at the problem of health care, the U.S. is ranked 19th — last! — among industrialized nations when it comes to preventable deaths.

The biggest problem with the U.S. health-care system, Park reports, is that it has been designed to respond to illness rather than prevent it: fully half of U.S. adults in 2005 did not receive recommended preventive care. “When we do get our cardiac health checked, too often it's because we've been rushed to the emergency room suffering from chest pains. When we do get a cancer evaluation, too often it's a diagnosis of advanced disease that has spread beyond the initial tumor site,” she writes.

If our ailing healthcare system is to recover, more attention needs to be paid to education, prevention and early treatment. It’s a strategy which has been shown to deliver promising results — for example, half of adults ages 50+ and older received a colon scan, meeting the colon cancer screening targets established by the Department of Health and Human Services in its Healthy People 2010 report.

President-elect Obama is said to rank health-care reform third on his list of top priorities, just behind addressing the financial crisis and passing an energy bill. From his mouth to our legislators’ ears.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Making the Most of Search Engine Marketing

New York-based Advertising Age recently released the 2008 edition of its Search Engine Marketing Fact Pack, an overview of the top search engines, keyword use and “everything else marketers need to know to connect with consumers.”

It’s filled with interesting data. For example, a recent survey of advertisers revealed that they were robbing Peter to pay Paul. When asking which budgets they were diverting to fund search marketing programs, “magazine advertising” was the number one answer, accounting for 32 percent of replies, followed by “website development” (22%) and “direct mail” (17%).

Also worth checking out in the Fact Pack are the industry-specific rankings of the top websites and search terms. Among the sectors addressed: business information, banking, stocks and shares, telecommunications and healthcare. … all valuable business intelligence for branding and marketing firms and public relations consultants.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Top Ten Most Useful Health Websites for Consumers

I’ve just run across a news bite that I want to share with everyone interested in obtaining accurate and reliable healthcare information for themselves and their families. It’s also a great resource for those of us who work in healthcare and pharmaceutical marketing.

The Consumer and Patient Health Information Section of the Medical Library Association has published its list of the most useful websites for healthcare consumers. Listed in alphabetical (not ranked) order, the “top ten” are:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
HIV InSite
Medem Medical Library
Medline Plus
National Cancer Institute
New York Online Access to Health (NOAH)
All of the healthcare websites were evaluated on the following criteria: credibility, sponsorship/authorship, content, audience, currency, disclosure, purpose, links, design, interactivity and disclaimers.

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