A Medical Device Daily

Grants totaling $95 million will be awarded to up to 25 grantees to develop a new program that will reduce the number of cancer deaths in minority and poor populations, reported Mike Leavitt, secretary of Health and Human Services.

The new initiative, called the Community Networks Program, was developed by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH; both Bethesda, Maryland). Its aim is to reduce cancer disparities through community participation in education, research and training. Interventions will include proven approaches including smoking cessation, increasing healthy eating and physical activity and early detection and treatment of breast, cervical and colorectal cancers.

Programs will be designed to reach communities and populations experiencing a disproportionate share of the cancer burden, and will address African Americans, American Indians/Alaska natives, Hawaiian natives and other Pacific Islanders, Asians, Hispanics/Latinos and rural underserved populations.

In other grants/contracts news:

• Raytel Cardiac Services (Windsor, Connecticut) reported the expansion of its previously disclosed alliance with St. Jude Medical (St. Paul, Minnesota) to increase awareness of and access to self-testing and monitoring the effectiveness of anticoagulation medication of Coumadin (warfarin) for mechanical heart valve patients.

It is estimated that in the U.S. alone, more than 500,000 mechanical heart valve patients live on daily anticoagulation therapy and could benefit from regular blood testing for International Normalized Ratio (INR) to avoid critical complications, such as hemorrhaging or blood clots.

Raytel said patient INR self-testing has proven to be highly effective in managing Coumadin levels; however, physician and patient awareness in the U.S. of home self-testing is still low.

• Clear Choice Health Plans (Bend, Oregon) selected Plexis Healthcare Systems (Ashland, Oregon) as the provider of the organization’s benefits and claims administration software and EDI solution. Clear Choice offers health insurance, including Medicare Advantage plans, commercial plans, Oregon Medicaid and third-party administration to individuals and businesses throughout Central Oregon, Eastern Oregon and the Columbia River Gorge area.