ARA opens new dialysis center

American Renal Associates (ARA; Beverly, Massachusetts), an owner and operator of outpatient kidney dialysis centers operating facilities in partnership with nephrologists throughout the U.S., reported the opening of the Dialysis Center of Bucks County, a new outpatient facility located in Bristol, Pennsylvania. The facility is now admitting patients after passing all regulatory requirements without any deficiencies, ARA said.

ARA focuses on developing start-up treatment facilities in partnership with physicians and also acquires existing dialysis units in selective strategic markets. The company opened 10 facilities in 2006 and said it expects strong growth throughout 2007 and beyond.

Corticosteroid inhaler use to increase

Decision Resources (Waltham, Massachusetts), an advisory firm focusing on pharmaceutical and healthcare issues, reports that the use of corticosteroid inhalers will increase for the treatment of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

“Despite the criticisms of primary care physicians' use of inhaled corticosteroids, 39% of pulmonologists forecast that they will increase their use of these agents for treating COPD, presumably in large part because of the results of the TORCH study,” said Decision Resources analyst Madhuri Borde, PhD. “Single-agent inhalers are becoming seen as the most appropriate first-line agent, though Advair use in this segment will continue to increase as well.” Advair is an inhaler device delivering two agents.

The findings come from two reports from Decision Resources: “Treatment Algorithms in Asthma” and “Treatment Algorithms in COPD.”

Decision Resources combines primary research with claims-based longitudinal patient-level data from PharMetrics (Watertown, Massachusetts) to provide insight into physician prescribing trends and the factors that drive therapy product choice, from diagnosis through treatment.

AAA ultrasound open to Medicare recipients

In 2007, for the first time, new Medicare beneficiaries at risk for abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) have the opportunity to be screened using ultrasound technology, according to Medtronic (Minneapolis). This screening is now part of the Welcome to Medicare physical for many seniors who have certain risk factors.

A charter member of the National Aneurysm Alliance, Medtronic has been providing free screenings for abdominal aortic aneurysms at various clinics throughout the U.S. since 2004. During the past two years, approximately 30,000 people have been screened at 150 locations around the country, and more than 550 potentially life-threatening AAA conditions have been detected.

The alliance is a group of medical professional organizations, patient advocates, individuals and medical technology manufacturers dedicated to reducing the number of Americans who die from abdominal aortic aneurysms.

AAA rupture is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S., with an estimated 15,000 seniors dying from AAA rupture each year. Legislation passed last year included provisions of the SAAAVE Act (Screening Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Very Efficiently), enabling screening for men who have smoked at any time in their lives, and for both men and women with a family history of AAA. This benefit is available only to people who are new to the Medicare system.

“AAA screening is an important measure that will save thousands of American lives each year,” said vascular surgeon Robert Zwolak, MD, a professor at Dartmouth Medical School (Hanover, New Hampshire) and a member of the Society of Vascular Surgery (SVS), which advocated for the legislation.