Author Archives: Meredith Hemler

Making Medicine Personal in Respiratory Health

Previously, we shared how we’re Making Medicine Personal for patients. We’re continuing the conversation by focusing on how we’re treating respiratory diseases.

Your health and that of your loved ones is one of the most important aspects of life. It’s also the most important aspect of our work. For more than 40 years, we’ve addressed respiratory challenges to improve millions of lives – and we’re not slowing down. We’re constantly developing new methods to advance quality of life while avoiding unnecessary costs and adding value to the overall healthcare system.

We understand that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work in healthcare. Your cellular and molecular makeup is unique to you and you only. That’s why we’re focusing on tailored, individualized treatments to ensure that the right treatment is being delivered to the right patient.

Here’s how we’re doing this through innovation, patient assistance, and collaboration:


One of the main challenges of respiratory health is identifying the right dosage and treatment for each patient. With this in mind, we’re using new technologies, such as co-suspension technology, to enable consistent delivery of one or more different medicines in a single device, and we’re investigating biologics that have the potential to deliver uniquely targeted treatment for patients.

And that’s just the beginning. Access to proper treatment is the first step, but ensuring that patients maintain their treatments and adhere to doctor recommendations is equally important. Programs like Stay Connected Medication Adherence, AZCaRes™, and Health Journey Support allow us to be the patient’s coach and cheerleader.

“I’m so grateful for AstraZeneca’s savings cards. Your medicine has improved my asthma as the doctor believed it would.”

– AstraZeneca patient 

Hearing patients like the one above talk about how our programs have helped them brings meaning to our work. And that’s why we will never stop looking for ways to support and advocate for patients.

But we’re not in this alone. At AstraZeneca, we believe there is strength in numbers. Collaborative partnerships around the world enable us to pioneer research, technology, and awareness to improve patient outcomes. From working with the COPD Foundation to create one of the largest patient networks in existence, to collaborating with Adherium to explore the impact of technology on adherence, to annually partnering with the CHEST Foundation during World COPD Day and National COPD Awareness Month, our partnerships are key to our efforts.

At the end of the day, it’s our job to make sure our medicines bring value to you and the entire healthcare system. In future blog posts, we’ll share how we’re making medicine personal for patients living with cardiovascular and metabolic diseases as well as patients receiving cancer treatment. Stay tuned.

Asking Congress to Get “ON IT” for Diabetes

By Topher Brooke, Vice President, U.S. Diabetes, AstraZeneca

Topher Brooke Headshot-2At AstraZeneca, we believe that real progress in improving type 2 diabetes outcomes starts with supporting patients in multiple ways, such as improving access to our medicines, providing educational programs and resources, and advocating on the patient’s behalf, to name a few. In March, we launched the ON IT Movement in partnership with Dr. Phil McGraw to raise awareness about type 2 diabetes through Dr. Phil’s personal experience, to spark further dialogue about what it’s like to live with the condition, and to motivate other patients to take action towards leading a healthier life.

Now, I’m excited that we’re taking the ON IT Movement a step further to advance the national conversation by addressing Congress on Capitol Hill, where we’ll highlight the challenges that people with type 2 diabetes face every day. Nearly 28 million Americans are living with type 2 diabetes today, with another 86 million at risk of developing it. This condition costs our society over $245 billion annually. In order for change to occur, intervention must take place at multiple levels – from prevention, education and treatment to public health and policy-making – to take early action against type 2 diabetes.

On May 11, AstraZeneca and Dr. Phil will join policymakers and advocates on Capitol Hill to ask Congress for more support of those living with and at risk for developing diabetes and call attention to the patient experience. This unique opportunity allows us to meet with members of Congress and the Senate to discuss the goals of the ON IT Movement and to advocate for their constituents whose lives are impacted by diabetes.

The highlight of the day will be the “Get ON IT for Diabetes” bicameral congressional briefing where we will discuss the growing impact of type 2 diabetes in the United States. The Congressional Diabetes Caucus co-chairs, Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Congressman Tom Reed (R-NY), will provide opening remarks followed by a panel discussion. In addition to Dr. Phil, the panelists will include George Grunberger, M.D., F.A.C.P., F.A.C.E., president of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), Robert E. Ratner, M.D., F.A.C.P., F.A.C.E.; Chief Scientific and Medical Officer, American Diabetes Association (ADA), and Kelly Close, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of diaTribe; President and Founder, Close Concerns. Other prominent members of the type 2 diabetes community will join us to help strengthen and amplify our message to Congress, including the American Association of Diabetes Educators, Diabetes Hands Foundation, Endocrine Society and Taking Control of Your Diabetes.

So how can you help Congress get “ON IT” for type 2 diabetes and make your voice heard?

  • Visit the diabetes caucus website to learn about diabetes-related legislation that impacts Americans who live with the disease and the millions who are at risk of developing it.
  • Tell Congress the time is now to get ON IT and address the diabetes epidemic. We ask you to call or email your legislators and ask that they prioritize diabetes issues and increase support for those living with the disease. Or, you can reach out to your member of Congress via Twitter using #OnItMovement.

I also encourage you to visit to learn more about Dr. Phil and his 6 Rules for creating and sticking to a plan. While we push for progress in how type 2 diabetes is addressed and managed at a national level, it’s important to remember that even the smallest steps in the right direction can lead to significant change.

Follow @AstraZenecaUS and #OnItMovement on Twitter for updates leading up to and during our day on Capitol Hill.

“I had no idea that there were other forms of constipation” – A Patient’s OIC Story

For patients with chronic pain, taking a prescribed opioid treatment for long-term pain management may provide pain relief but can also cause opioid-induced constipation (OIC). However, some patients may not realize that constipation is one of the most common side effects of their prescription opioid treatment. They may be too embarrassed to talk about their symptoms with their doctor. AstraZeneca is committed to raising awareness about OIC to drive an important patient-physician dialogue about one of the most common side effects of opioid therapy.

To help educate others about this medical condition, AstraZeneca sat down with Lynn Crisci, a 38-year-old Boston Marathon bombing survivor who is experiencing OIC as a result of managing her chronic pain with opioids as prescribed by her doctor.

AZ: Lynn, tell us about your chronic pain journey.

Lynn: In 2006, I suffered a disabling accident, which left me bedbound and in a wheelchair, on and off medications and at doctors’ offices almost every day of the week. I had a six year journey from wheelchair to walking again and was starting to finish my BA in theater arts. I only had 12 classes left to go when I sustained severe injuries during the Boston Marathon attack on April 15, 2013 – and that’s when my injuries left me in so much chronic pain that opioid pain therapy became part of my daily life.

AZ: When did you first start to experience OIC?

Lynn: I noticed within weeks of starting to take the opioids that I had some pretty severe constipation.

AZ: When you first started to notice these changes, what did you do?

Lynn: I didn’t get the courage to bring it up to my primary care physician or any of my specialists. It was my new normal and I started to think that all pain was normal and I wasn’t sure what I should tell my doctor about, I wasn’t sure if it was new pain, or normal pain, because you hear from doctors so many times, “Oh, that’s normal. That’s normal.”

AZ: How would you describe the impact OIC has had on your life?

Lynn: I just feel like OIC controls my life. You end up planning your days and what you accept for work, what you accept for social activities. You end up saying “no” a lot when you really want to say “yes”, because you’re just afraid of being embarrassed. It’s very isolating. I don’t tell people why I’m saying no.

AZ: If you knew someone else being prescribed opioids, what would you tell them about OIC?


For Lynn, starting the conversation was the first step to finding support for her OIC. Talking about the full impact of OIC may be difficult, but it’s important to have a discussion about it with your healthcare provider. AstraZeneca encourages health care providers and patients with chronic pain to have an open conversation about OIC and the benefits and risks of prescription opioid treatment. For more information about OIC and guidance to help begin the conversation, visit our community blog,

Science of Novel Drug Delivery in Respiratory Medicine

AstraZeneca’s latest approval BEVESPI AEROSPHERE™ (glycopyrrolate and formoterol fumarate) inhalation aerosol, is the first long-acting muscarinic antagonist (LAMA), and formoterol fumarate, a long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonist (LABA) delivered in a pressurized metered dose inhaler (pMDI). It is the first approved product to use the novel Co-Suspension™ Technology. BEVESPI AEROSPHERE was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for long-term maintenance treatment of people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). BEVESPI AEROSPHERE is not for the relief of acute symptoms of COPD or for the treatment of asthma. More information about the approval can be found in our press release.

3226104-NONBRANDED PDUFA Infographics-CC-The Latest Science of Novel Drug Delivery in Resp Medicine Infographic

This progress demonstrates AstraZeneca’s continued commitment to deliver new treatment options for the millions of people affected by chronic respiratory conditions. But, what exactly is Co-Suspension Technology? Below are facts about Co-Suspension Technology to answer this question.

  1. Utilizes a specially formulated phospholipid particle designed for distribution throughout the lungs: Co-Suspension Technology uses a novel, specially engineered particle to assist with drug crystal delivery. The particles are designed to release drug crystals at their site of deposition, and dissolve in the lung fluid
  1. Designed to prevent separation and sedimentation of drug crystals over time: Co-Suspension Technology uses low-density particles that are intended to prevent settling (sedimentation) and remain in a stable homogeneous suspension 
  1. Designed for dose consistency: AstraZeneca’s Co-Suspension Technology allows for consistent dosing of one or more different drugs from a single pMDI, the most commonly used inhaler in the US.

We remain focused on developing innovative technology for respiratory patients, and look forward to Co-Suspension Technology as the platform for future combination products within AstraZeneca’s robust respiratory pipeline. Click here for more information about Co-Suspension Technology.


BEVESPI AEROSPHERE is a combination of glycopyrrolate, an anticholinergic, and formoterol fumarate, a long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonist (LABA), indicated for the long-term, maintenance treatment of airflow obstruction in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including chronic bronchitis and/or emphysema. BEVESPI AEROSPHERE is not indicated for the relief of acute bronchospasm or for the treatment of asthma.

Important Safety Information about BEVESPI AEROSPHERE, including Boxed WARNING

WARNING: Long-acting beta2-adrenergic agonists (LABAs), such as formoterol fumarate, one of the active ingredients in BEVESPI AEROSPHERE, increase the risk of asthma-related death. A placebo-controlled trial with another LABA (salmeterol) showed an increase in asthma-related deaths in subjects receiving salmeterol. This finding with salmeterol is considered a class effect of all LABAs, including formoterol fumarate. The safety and efficacy of BEVESPI AEROSPHERE in patients with asthma have not been established. BEVESPI AEROSPHERE is not indicated for the treatment of asthma.

All LABAs are contraindicated in patients with asthma without use of a long-term asthma control medication. BEVESPI is contraindicated in patients with a hypersensitivity to glycopyrrolate, formoterol fumarate, or to any component of the product.

BEVESPI should not be initiated in patients with acutely deteriorating COPD, which may be a life-threatening condition.

BEVESPI should not be used for the relief of acute symptoms, i.e., as rescue therapy for acute episodes of bronchospasm. Acute symptoms should be treated with an inhaled short-acting beta2-agonist.

BEVESPI should not be used more often or at higher doses than recommended, or with other LABAs, as an overdose may result.

If paradoxical bronchospasm occurs, discontinue BEVESPI immediately and institute alternative therapy.

If immediate hypersensitivity reactions, including angioedema, urticaria, or skin rash, occur, discontinue BEVESPI at once and consider alternative treatment.

BEVESPI can produce a clinically significant cardiovascular effect in some patients, as measured by increases in pulse rate, blood pressure, or symptoms. If such effects occur, BEVESPI may need to be discontinued.

Use with caution in patients with convulsive disorders, thyrotoxicosis, diabetes mellitus, ketoacidosis, and in patients who are unusually responsive to sympathomimetic amines.

Be alert to hypokalemia and hyperglycemia.

Worsening of narrow-angle glaucoma or urinary retention may occur. Use with caution in patients with narrow-angle glaucoma, prostatic hyperplasia, or bladder-neck obstruction and instruct patients to contact a physician immediately if symptoms occur.

The most common adverse reactions with BEVESPI (≥2% and more common than placebo) were: cough, 4.0% (2.7%), and urinary tract infection, 2.6% (2.3%).

Use caution if administering adrenergic drugs because the sympathetic effects of formoterol may be potentiated.

Concomitant treatment with xanthine derivatives, steroids, or diuretics may potentiate any hypokalemic effect of formoterol.

Use with caution in patients taking non–potassium-sparing diuretics, as the ECG changes and/or hypokalemia may worsen with concomitant beta2-agonists.

The action of adrenergic agonists on the cardiovascular system may be potentiated by monoamine oxidase inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants, or drugs known to prolong the QTc interval.  Therefore BEVESPI should be used with extreme caution in patients being treated with these agents.

Use beta-blockers with caution as they not only block the therapeutic effects of beta-agonists, but may produce severe bronchospasm in patients with COPD.

Avoid co-administration of BEVESPI with other anticholinergic-containing drugs as this may lead to an increase in anticholinergic adverse effects.

Please see full Prescribing Information including Boxed WARNING, and Medication Guide.

A Patient’s Perspective during Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week

By Jessica Tar, patient advocate

jess headshot2010 was truly a year that delivered the worst to my life. In April, the unexpected death of my father, a non-smoker, from lung cancer, revealed the mystery of this disease and at times, its unidentifiable origins. My family and I had no idea of how he had developed such an aggressive disease, taking his life only four months after being diagnosed. Unbelievably, my shock was to be exceeded just nine months after my father’s death when I received the news of my own diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma.

Seated in the office of my oral surgeon, the jolt and despair were instantaneous. The results of the biopsy my doctor had performed the month before were in, and the cells located on the side of my tongue were definitively malignant. This happened a year after I noticed a painful spot in my mouth, an area that seemed to wax and wane with sensitivity depending on what foods I ate and the degree to which I talked. That October, I surrendered to a pang of worry and made a phone call to the trusted surgeon that had removed my wisdom teeth nine years earlier.

The small sore on my tongue that was present during the time when my dad was alive, was connected with an oral cancer diagnosis. I pleaded out loud over this because on one of many levels, it was absurd. Immediately, I associated this disease with tobacco use, and I had never smoked in my life. At 28 and living in New Jersey, I was busier than ever, teaching swimming lessons, studying art in school, singing the national anthem at local events and I had proudly just completed acting work on my second short film in six months. Despite my sorrowful year, I was succeeding in all of the areas I had aspirations in. I racked my brain, mulling over how I could have taken my good health for granted in all the bustle of the year.

I waited until the end of the day to tell my husband, TJ. My mother and sisters were in such a state of despair over the loss of my father that I couldn’t believe I was tasked with burdening them further. The result of my lousy news to all parties was emotional chaos. I told myself and everyone around me that I was mindfully strong and assumed a responsibility to be both proactive and fanatical when it came to my treatment plan.

I was tested and scanned and talked to every medical professional I had access to. I digested and parsed out a lot of advice. My search for an oncologic surgeon was far and wide, extending to Manhattan and Cleveland. I confidently decided on a specialist in New York and from there on out I would frequently be in and out of the city, not for auditions or filming, but instead, for my health, for my life.

Introspectively, I prepared for my impending surgery by putting my ego on overdrive and telling my family, my best friend and my mother-in-law (a stationary aficionado) that I didn’t want so much as a “get-well” card. I was going to be fine and back at it in no time. (Right?). Truthfully, I was so afraid that I knew a glance at sickness-related materials bearing my name might crash my game face. They humored me and in mid-January I spent five quiet days in the hospital with nothing but a smiley faced balloon that waved in the breeze of the heating vent at night. I stuffed it into the closet in my room and commenced my recovery from a partial glossectomy (removal of the tongue) and neck dissection, a secondary procedure necessary due to the proximity of the carcinoma to my lymph nodes, which can be a superhighway for cancer cells.

My surgery was followed by a welcome ruling of turtlenecks and speech therapy. A few weeks later, the news I had been holding out all hope for was revealed. My oral surgery was successful and the cancer had not spread elsewhere within my body. For myself, the real impact of having cancer was the mental portion, which was greater than any physical repercussion of my experience. I had been depressed, especially when I related my position to singing or just trying to talk to the cashier at the supermarket in that first year. My tongue, as I knew it, was not ever going to be the same for the rest of my life. I could not let what happened compromise my mind; my state of living, despite the reminder with every word I spoke.

What I endured wasn’t nothing, it was something; a way to stay alive and healthy on the planet. It is this survivalist mentality that drives me forward as a mother to my children, my life force; as a wife to my best friend and husband, TJ; and now as a patient advocate. It is this month during Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week® (OHANCAW®) that I dedicate this perspective of strength to the patients and families of head and neck oncology. For no matter what changes our bodies withstand over the course of our lives, we must move forward as survivors and actively participate in the pursuit of our healthiest selves.

Jessica Tar lives in New Jersey with her husband Thomas Tar, their three daughters and two rescued dogs. She is a national spokesperson for the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance and was host of the 2015 IFHNOS (International Federation of Head and Neck Oncologic Societies) Opening Ceremony in New York City.

Why People with Type 2 Diabetes Should Start a Walking Program

Today, more than 145 million adults in the United States include walking as part of a physically active lifestyle, and this staple exercise continues to grow in popularity. After all, walking can be done just about anywhere and, for most, is as simple as putting one foot in front of the other.

Exercise is an especially beneficial and critical component of the treatment plans for the nearly 28 million Americans living with type 2 diabetes. However, maintaining a fitness routine can be challenging, and while people may recognize that they need to exercise regularly, they may not know where to start. That’s why AstraZeneca and the Diabetes Hands Foundation launched the Everyday Steps walking program, which features a walking guide with 12 motivational tips to help people with type 2 diabetes start a daily walking routine – and stick with it.

ColbergDr. Sheri Colberg, a professor of exercise science at Old Dominion University and adjunct professor of internal medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School, recognizes how walking can benefit people with type 2 diabetes. For the past two decades, Dr. Colberg’s research has been devoted to exercise and type 2 diabetes, and ultimately, the benefits physical activity has on overall health. She’s also the author of 10 health-related publications focused on type 2 diabetes. Here, she helps to address some questions about the barriers people with type 2 diabetes may face when it comes to sticking to an exercise routine and how to push past them.

What are the biggest concerns you hear when you talk to people with type 2 diabetes about exercise?

Dr. Colberg: I see exercise as being the biggest challenge for them. In addition to managing other components of their treatment plan, many adults with type 2 diabetes can find maintaining a fitness regimen challenging and are unsure of how to get started. They think it might be dangerous, or they might be intimidated. They need to find activities that work for them. The goal is to find an activity that will allow them to start slowly – and progress slowly – in order to avoid injury and loss of motivation. What’s important to remember is that becoming more active means that they have the opportunity to gain more energy and feel more invigorated.

But, still there are barriers. Do you think that people are often overwhelmed by the idea of starting an exercise routine?

Dr. Colberg: Of course. But, the important thing to remember is that even if people have missed their scheduled fitness activity, they can still find ways to be active during the day. For example, they can add more steps as they go about their daily activities. Exercise doesn’t necessarily have to be structured. Exercise needs to be thought of as an active lifestyle, as opposed to a task or chore.

That’s a great point. Why is walking in particular a recommended form of physical activity for people with type 2 diabetes?

Dr. Colberg: Walking is a moderate and accessible activity and, most importantly, an excellent place to start in terms of beginning an exercise routine. Not only does walking help people with type 2 diabetes increase their fitness levels, but it also helps control blood glucose levels and improves the body’s ability to use insulin.

What are some quick tips to help people start and stay motivated with a walking routine?

Dr. Colberg: The key is to stop thinking of walking as a significant undertaking. Like the Everyday Steps guide suggests, using devices like a pedometer or smartphone app can help determine baseline fitness levels and track progress by adding steps as you go. Each time you walk, you can add a few more steps, so you are growing a healthy habit that becomes easier.

Besides walking, what other types of exercise can help people manage their type 2 diabetes?

Dr. Colberg: It’s beneficial to add resistance training to a fitness routine. As people age, it’s important to maintain as well as gain muscle mass. Resistance training can be a variety of things – using body weight, for example, planks, lunges, wall sits or resistance bands, hand weights and household items like full water bottles.

What is the most important message you’d like to share with people who have recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes?

Dr. Colberg: It’s important for them to commit to making long-term changes. By making small lifestyle changes in diet and adding more steps here and there, these small efforts end up having a large impact on their ability to manage diabetes.

To learn more about the Everyday Steps walking program and find tips to help people with type 2 diabetes find the motivation to start and maintain a walking routine, check out the walking guide at Before beginning a fitness program, it’s important to talk to a doctor for guidance.

Perspectives on Cardiovascular Disease: A Multi-Faceted Condition

By Steven Zelenkofske, DO, Vice President, US Medical Affairs, Cardiovascular, AstraZeneca

Steve Zelenkofske

Steve Zelenkofske, DO, FACC, FACOI, FCPP

The 2016 American College of Cardiology (ACC) scientific sessions provides AstraZeneca an opportunity to interact with some of the top clinicians and researchers in the cardiology field, and discuss the difficult clinical questions that they face when treating patients.

With ACC coming up this weekend, I caught up with Roxana Mehran, MD, of Mount Sinai School of Medicine to discuss the multi-faceted nature of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and how research and science is helping to evolve the way we view the causes and management of CVD.

Here’s a snapshot from our recent conversation:

Dr. Zelenkofske: CVD is a common condition that many people see as one singular condition, but it’s actually a chronic and complex disease state with diverse risk factors and sub-conditions.

What’s your perspective on this view of CVD and the varying levels of risk patients with different forms of the disease face?

Dr. Roxana Mehran


Dr. Mehran: When you think about CVD, particularly from a patient perspective, it’s a really complicated disease because it’s caused by a range of factors, like high cholesterol and hypertension – and is often a consequence of other co-morbidities like diabetes and chronic kidney disease (CKD). While there are several issues that make up CVD, the one unifying concern for healthcare professionals in treating it is managing risk – the risk of the disease worsening, the risk of having an event like a heart attack and the risk of recurring events that may take place over time.

Dr. Zelenkofske: You mention managing recurring events. This is an important point because when people think of a heart-related event, they think of it as something that happens once, which is not something we necessarily see in clinical practice.

Dr. Mehran: That’s definitely true. What many people may not realize is recurrent events like a heart attack often take place in patients who’ve already had one because of an underlying atherothrombotic disease. Recent research has shown that one in five patients who has had a heart attack will likely have another cardiovascular (CV) event, such as a heart attack, stroke or CV death in the subsequent three years, even if patients were event free after 12 months. These patients very often have other co-morbidities, such as high cholesterol, so preventing subsequent events, also referred to as secondary prevention, is an important health priority.

Dr. Zelenkofske: Can you share some of your insights on approaches that help patients prevent those recurrent events?

Dr. Mehran: Managing the recurrent risk of events is an ongoing journey that begins in the hospital and continues in the long term once a patient returns to ‘normal life’ back at home. In addition to lifestyle changes, patients should speak to their doctors about treatment approaches which have been shown to help reduce the likelihood of having an event post-heart attack.

And since we’re on the topic of managing risk factors, what’s your perspective on the evolving landscape for managing high cholesterol and high blood pressure?

Dr. Zelenkofske: AstraZeneca has a long-standing history in managing high cholesterol and blood pressure. We continue to follow the science of those medicines, to better understand their role in addressing unmet needs for patients to help them manage their conditions. In fact, at ACC this year, we continue to have data for our legacy CV medicines, including an independently studied late-breaker that evaluates whether cholesterol lowering medicine and a combination of blood pressuring lowering medicine used alone or together can reduce play a role in primary prevention for patients at average risk. As a science-driven organization, I am encouraged to see the clinical community continuing efforts to understand appropriate treatments in managing these conditions.

Dr. Mehran: Often, we know that conditions can be asymptomatic, so patients may not even know that they have them.

Dr. Zelenkofske: I agree. In the U.S., 71 million American adults have high LDL-C or bad cholesterol, yet only 1 out of every 3 adults with high LDL-C has their condition under control. Additionally, an estimated 80 million American adults age 20 years of age or older have high blood pressure.

Dr. Mehran: As you’ve talked about a holistic approach to CVD, what’s on the horizon for AstraZeneca as it relates to associated conditions such as CKD?

Dr. Zelenkofske: CKD is a global health problem that affects more than 10% of the world’s population. Individuals living with CKD are more likely to die of CVD than to develop kidney failure. Hyperkalaemia, a complication of CKD, affects more than 3 million patients suffering from CKD and chronic heart failure (CHF) in the U.S. alone. It can be a life threatening condition for which there are limited treatment options. Because we know that CVD is a well-known consequence of CKD, AstraZeneca draws on its deep understanding of cardiovascular treatment to help identify solutions in CKD as well. AstraZeneca recognizes there are unmet needs in hyperkalemia, among other complications from CKD. As a result, we continuously seek opportunities, both independently and in partnership, to investigate treatment options that can help reduce the burden of CKD.


Roxana Mehran, MD, FACC, FACP, FCCP, FESC, FAHA, FSCAI is Professor of Medicine and Director of Interventional Cardiovascular Research and Clinical Trials at the Zena and Michael A. Weiner Cardiovascular Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Her clinical focus includes Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS), angina, coronary artery disease and hyperlidemia among other therapeutic areas.

Bringing Medical Meetings to Everyone via Social Media

For decades, medical meetings have been a place for doctors, patients, researchers and advocates to engage with each other and share information about the latest advances in treatments and science.

That engagement level has exploded over the last few years, however, with the rise of social media. Now, attendees can talk not only to others in the meeting hall but also in every corner of the globe.

Social media takes medical meetings beyond the convention center walls to provide a real-time yet enduring story of patient experiences, scientific breakthroughs and inspirational speakers. It opens the meetings up to anyone, whether they have a deep or passing interest in all or any of the subjects being discussed, while democratizing the sharing of information.

Journalists can report in real time. Attendees can take notes in a public way. And anyone with access to the Internet can get in on the conversation.

That’s good for patients. That’s good for health care providers. And that’s good for companies like AstraZeneca that value learning from those who are facing diseases for which we are fiercely working to development new and more effective treatments.

How important has social media grown to become at medical meetings? Consider: The 2013 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting saw 4,352 different people tweet 21,861 times using the #ASCO13 hashtag throughout the year. Two years later, the #ASCO15 meeting was mentioned in 81,273 tweets from 16,664 people – a nearly four-fold increase.

And it’s not just ASCO. The American Heart Association’s annual meeting saw a four-fold increase in Twitter activity between 2013 (#AHA2013) and 2015 (#AHA2015) as well, according to the analytics firm Symplur. Similar increases were seen at the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and American Diabetes Association (ADA) scientific sessions.

ACC 2012, 2015

AstraZeneca once again will participate in major meetings in our therapeutic areas this year, including ASCO, AHA, ACC, ADA and several others. In addition to our live presence at the meetings, we hope to accomplish the following through our social engagement:

  • Conduct live, authentic dialogue with those in attendance as well as those following along virtually.
  • Share our messages and resources with an informed, engaged audience.
  • Continue conversations begun face to face in the meeting halls.
  • Glean key areas of focus of those affected by the diseases being studied to better inform our efforts as a company.

It is increasingly crucial for all players in healthcare to be engaged in social media, as more and more Americans use these platforms:

  • Overall, 62 percent of adults in the United States use Facebook, while 22 percent use LinkedIn and 20 percent use Twitter, according to the Pew Research Center.
  • One in 20 Google searches seek health-related information, according to Google.
  • Meanwhile, 41 percent in one survey said social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital, or medical facility.
  • Finally, 32 percent of insured Americans say they are uncomfortable with their personal knowledge and skills navigating the healthcare system – higher than those who are uncomfortable buying a home (25 percent).

Taken together, this means that all segments of the health system have a responsibility to have a social presence that provides accurate and scientifically sound information to patients who are increasingly turning to the Internet and social media for information. That includes information from providers, payers, patient groups and companies like AstraZeneca.

You can follow AstraZeneca in the U.S. on Twitter here and like us on Facebook here to see firsthand how we are engaging via social media.

Meanwhile, we will see you at the meetings – and online!

How We’re Making Medicine Personal

At AstraZeneca, we know your health is personal and that’s why we put careful consideration into determining the value and ultimately the cost of our medicines. Many factors go into these decisions such as the benefits our medicines provide to your health and their potential to reduce healthcare spending on other costlier medical procedures. Just as importantly, these decisions enable us to invest in discovering and developing future medicines where new treatments are needed.

So how do we balance providing affordable access to our medicines while ensuring their cost reflects the value they deliver to the individual patient and broader healthcare system? We understand the weight of this question. That’s why we spend countless hours not just thinking about it, but finding new ways to help you and those you care about receive the best care possible for medical conditions we focus on. We do this by developing innovative medicines and offering programs that are uniquely tailored to you. We’re also always looking for ways to make your medicines more affordable and we collaborate with stakeholders across the healthcare system in pursuit of this goal.

Put differently – if you need our medicines, we want you to have affordable access to them and for them to make a valuable difference to your health. Here’s how we’re making medicine personal through innovation, support, and collaboration:


Through innovative approaches, patient support programs, and key collaborations within the health and biopharmaceutical industry, we’re making medicine personal to improve your health, your care, and your future.

Our medicines represent an important part of America’s healthcare dollar and it’s our job to show how these treatments can bring value to you and the entire healthcare system. In future blog posts, we look forward to sharing more about the value our treatments provide and what we are doing to improve their accessibility and affordability.

Biopharmaceutical companies, such as AstraZeneca, lead the way in improving patient health and advancing medical innovation. Find out more here.

From the Head to the Heart: Key Learnings to Improve Cardiovascular Health

By James W. Blasetto, MD, MPH, FACC

J Blasetto-headshotAcross the country, nonprofit, grassroots organizations conduct innovative programs designed to reduce the impact of the number one cause of death in the U.S., cardiovascular disease. Their success depends not only on funding, resources and staffing, but also finding the answers to critical questions: How do you build effective programs and demonstrate their long-term impact, not only on people’s lives but the organization as well? How do you find what works, and what doesn’t?

At the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation, we seek to improve cardiovascular health by awarding Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSM (CCH) grants to U.S.-based nonprofit organizations conducting health programs at the community level. We understand that these programs require more than financial support to be effective. That’s why we work with our grant awardees to build capacity and identify key learnings.

This year, the Foundation decided to draw on the knowledge and experience of its CCH grant awardees to discuss answers to some of the questions above. Representatives of nine CCH grant awardees, along with Foundation trustees, participated in four separate roundtable discussions across the country to share their key learnings about how to improve cardiovascular health.

Here are some highlights from each roundtable discussion, including the one I had the privilege to attend in Charleston, W.Va. (and click on the links to watch these discussions):

Picayune, Mississippi – February 1, 2016

In Picayune, Miss., we celebrated the work of two long-time CCH grant awardees, Manna Ministries Inc. and Mallory Community Health Center. Manna Ministries received its third grant for its Heart 2 Heart Initiative, and Mallory Community Health Center received its fourth grant to begin its Take Control of Your Health program. Both organizations reach uninsured and underserved people in a state with some of the nation’s highest rates of cardiovascular disease, obesity and poverty.

Representatives of Manna Ministries and Mallory Community Health Center agreed that behavior change is a critical, and often challenging, component of their work. It extends to debunking myths about chronic disease and ensuring that people understand the purpose of primary care. The common theme throughout the discussion was a focus on motivation and individualized care.

2016 MS Roundtable 1

Left to right: Rich Buckley, President, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation; Ray Parisi, Trustee, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation; Jameye Martin, RN, Executive Director, Manna Ministries; Anthony Morales, MD, Consultant Cardiologist, Louisiana Heart Hospital; Dixie Reneault, Project Director, Manna Ministries; Jessanna Guzman, Manna Ministries; Aurora King, FNP, Medical Program Director, Manna Ministries; and Dustie Adams, Manna Ministries

Van Nuys, California – February 2, 2016

Van Nuys, Calif. was the meeting place for second-year grant awardee, Westminster Free Clinic, and first-time grant awardee, Mid Valley Family YMCA. Westminster’s Corazones Sanos (Healthy Hearts) program and the YMCA’s Active Su Corazon (Activate Your Heart) program both target Latinos in southern California.

The Mid Valley Family YMCA established its program to educate and empower the local Latino community about heart health. They took into account barriers to participation, and as a result they offer classes in Spanish and provide childcare. Westminster Free Clinic uses Latino teen volunteers to lead program activities and work with local grocery stores to offer healthier foods. Westminster also noted that many of their participants hesitate to ask questions during doctors’ visits; therefore, they work closely with them to ensure they understand medical terms such as high cholesterol and what they can do about it.

2016 CA Roundtable 1

Left to right: Karla Toledo, Teen Volunteer, Westminster Free Clinic; Esperanza (Espy) Gonzalez, Case Manager, Westminster Free Clinic; Timothy J. Gardner, MD, Trustee, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation; and Rich Buckley, President, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation

Charleston, West Virginia – February 4, 2016

In Charleston, W.Va., we learned from West Virginia Health Right, Inc. and St. Mary’s Health Wagon, both of whom are conducting their second CCH-funded programs – Sustainable Changes and Lifestyle Enhancement (SCALE) and Heart Health 1, 2, 3, respectively. Their programs provide medical care and health education in the Appalachian region, an area often characterized by lack of access to both.

West Virginia Health Right representatives attributed their program’s weight loss success to an emphasis on cultural sensitivity. Their team helps participants to find healthier recipes for regionally popular meals and learn about financially accessible diet options. St. Mary’s Health Wagon explained the rationale behind their use of a mobile clinic. Due to the geography of the region, people often have trouble getting to healthcare providers. St. Mary’s found that by delivering healthcare to the “doorsteps” of Appalachian residents, they could provide more screening opportunities and build trust in the community.

2016 WV Roundtable 1

Left to right: James W. Blasetto, MD, MPH, FACC, Chairman, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation and L. Kristin Newby, MD, MHS, Trustee, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – February 9, 2016

Three first-time CCH grant awardees gathered in Philadelpia to share how they are beginning or expanding their heart health programs with support from the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation. Drexel University’s Stephen and Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Services, City Health Works and the Gaston & Porter Health Improvement Center Inc. all operate in urban areas on the East Coast.

Representatives of each organization highlighted some of the challenges faced by their populations, ranging from language and literacy barriers, to racial disparities in health status. Drexel representatives explained their focus on resilience as a key component of their heart health program. By building teens’ “innate ability” to bounce back from trauma, they become better equipped to manage stress and make healthy lifestyle choices. Representatives of the Gaston & Porter Health Improvement Center discussed the importance of culturally appropriate, relatable mentors. Their program for mid-life African American women is led by previous program graduates. Similarly, City Health Works uses health coaches from the same backgrounds as they clients they serve. Each group spoke about the value of funding preventive health initiatives.

2016 PA Roundtable 1

Left to right: Ann Booth-Barbarin, Trustee, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation; Timothy J. Gardner, MD, Trustee, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation; and Howard Hutchinson, MD, FACC, Trustee, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation

Each year, other trustees and I have the pleasure of meeting one-on-one with these groups and seeing the incredible impact of their programs. Participants are losing weight, reducing their blood pressure and Hemoglobin A1C levels, learning more about nutrition and increasing their physical activity. At the organizational level, program leaders are sharing proven strategies to improve cardiovascular health.

These discussions are the first step in sharing program success with others working to improve cardiovascular health in their communities. By demonstrating the value of innovative, locally tailored interventions and offering insight on how to improve these efforts, we hope that others will be better equipped to carry on this work. In doing so, I believe we can make an enduring impact on cardiovascular health.

Dr. James Blasetto is the Chairman of the Board of the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation and Vice President of US Medical Affairs, Evidence Generation at AstraZeneca. He also is a Fellow in the American College of Cardiology.

Pictured top of page: Left to right: Chad Maender, Executive Director, Mid Valley Family YMCA; Joni Novosel, Community Services Director, Dignity Health Northridge Hospital Medical Center; Juan De La Cruz, VP of Community Development, YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles; Lisa Safaeinili, MPH, RD, Executive Director, Westminster Free Clinic; Karla Toledo, Teen Volunteer, Westminster Free Clinic; Esperanza (Espy) Gonzalez, Case Manager, Westminster Free Clinic; Timothy J. Gardner, MD, Trustee, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation; and Rich Buckley, President, AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation

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