Tag Archives: patients

The Journey of Having a Child with GERD

By Kristie Johnson, AstraZeneca Employee

My husband Ben and I have worked at AstraZeneca for 11 years and have a personal story that makes us grateful to work for the maker of the Purple Pill. Our son Cash spent his first months crying with what was initially diagnosed as colic. It’s not what we expected as new parents, to say the least.

On September 7, 2012, our beautiful baby boy, Cash, was born. At the time, there were no other children in our extended family so Cash was our parents’ first grandchild, our pride and joy. The first night we brought him home, we could not have been more excited. Our feelings turned to fear during the first week when Cash was constantly screaming, arching his back and wiggling, especially after feeding. His face was red and sweaty, and his fists were always balled up in discomfort. We felt helpless as we constantly rocked him and drove him around, doing anything and everything we could think of to soothe him. We sought answers by making an appointment with his pediatrician. The pediatrician diagnosed Cash with colic and told us it would last about six months.

The best way to describe the next year of our lives would be as house arrest; getting a full night of sleep and leaving the house with Cash were both out of the question. Our parents were too nervous to watch Cash because they felt helpless trying to calm him. Due to Ben’s family history of gastrointestinal problems and because of our work in the pharmaceutical industry, we refused to believe that Cash’s behavior and condition was normal. About two months into this journey, we decided to switch pediatricians. Our new pediatrician suggested a medication, but after it did not resolve the issues, he referred us to a pediatric gastroenterologist (GI).

Photo 1We were able to secure an appointment with a GI when Cash was one year old. During our visit, Cash was diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), more commonly known as acid reflux. The GI prescribed NEXIUM® (esomeprazole magnesium) Packets for Delayed-Release Oral Suspension, which is FDA-approved for use in children as young as one month old with complications of GERD. Within two days of Cash taking NEXIUM Packets, we saw dramatic changes. Cash stopped screaming and arching his back. He finally seemed comfortable. Thankfully for Cash, Ben and me, sleep came easily at last. Now nearing his third birthday, Cash is a happy, healthy young boy who no longer shows symptoms of GERD.

We are proud AstraZeneca employees and thankful parents. We feel strongly that all parents and caregivers should be aware of the signs and symptoms of GERD so that they’ll know when it might be time to consult their pediatrician or a specialist. We’re glad we were able to get the help our son needed with an accurate diagnosis and treatment for his symptoms.


About GERD

It is important to recognize that GERD is different than colic, or a “happy spitter.” While infants with colic may suffer from frequent bouts of crying, GERD is not a common cause of unexplained crying, irritability or distressed behavior. “Happy spitters” are also healthy-appearing with normal growth, but have painless regurgitation and do not show other infant-specific GERD warning signs. “Happy spitters” tend to grow out of recurrent regurgitation after 12 to 18 months. If you suspect symptoms of GERD in your child, make an appointment with your pediatrician for a diagnosis and to learn more about what treatment options are available.

Important Safety Information About NEXIUM® (esomeprazole magnesium) Packets

  • Symptom relief does not rule out the presence of other serious stomach conditions your child may have
  • NEXIUM may increase your child’s risk of getting severe diarrhea. Call your doctor right away if your child has watery stool, stomach pain and fever that does not go away
  • Talk to your doctor about your child’s risk for:
    • Bone fractures if your child takes multiple daily doses of NEXIUM for a long period of time
    • Low vitamin B12 if your child has been on NEXIUM for a long time (more than 3 years)
    • Low magnesium levels if your child takes NEXIUM for a long period of time
  • Tell your doctor about all the medicines your child takes, prescription and nonprescription drugs, including clopidogrel, vitamins and herbal supplements. NEXIUM may affect how other medicines work and other medicines may affect how NEXIUM works
  • In children 1 to 17 years of age, side effects with NEXIUM include headache, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, and sleepiness
  • In infants aged 1 month to less than 1 year old, side effects with NEXIUM include abdominal pain, regurgitation, rapid breathing and abnormal liver blood tests

Approved Uses

NEXIUM is prescribed to treat the symptoms of acid reflux disease, which typically include persistent heartburn on 2 or more days per week, despite treatment and change of diet in patients 1 year of age and older.

For patients as young as 1 month of age, NEXIUM is also prescribed to heal damage to the esophagus called erosive esophagitis. This damage may be caused over time from stomach acid wearing away the lining of the esophagus. Only a doctor can diagnose this condition. With NEXIUM, most erosions heal in 4 to 8 weeks. Results with NEXIUM may vary.

Please see Prescribing Information.

Please see Medication Guide.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA by visiting www.FDA.gov/medwatch or calling 1-800-FDA-1088.

This product information is intended for US consumers only.

3129512    Last Updated 7/15

Setting Your New Year Resolutions: Taking Care of Yourself

As the New Year quickly approaches, now is when we start thinking about improvements we want to make in various facets of our lives. Though losing weight and getting more exercise is often on many New Year’s resolution lists, we at AstraZeneca suggest adding one more important goal: check and control your blood pressure to help maintain your health.

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, affects nearly 1 in 3 Americans. Many people don’t realize they have high blood pressure until it escalates and they have a heart attack or stroke.

What is blood pressure?

Blood pressure is the measure of the force of blood pressing against the walls of your arteries.

Your blood pressure is measured with a blood pressure cuff in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and is recorded as two numbers: the top number (the higher of the two) measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. The bottom number measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats.

What is normal blood pressure?

For healthy adults, normal blood pressure is anything below 120/80 mm Hg. High blood pressure occurs when the blood traveling through your blood vessels push too hard against the artery walls. Depending on your overall health, blood pressure over 120/80 mm Hg may be considered high.

Talk to your own health care provider about normal blood pressure and the right range for you.

What causes high blood pressure?

The exact cause of high blood pressure isn’t known, but several factors are believed to play a role in its development, such as smoking, being overweight, lack of exercise, stress, genetics, and family history of high blood pressure.

Why should I be concerned about lowering my blood pressure?

If you have high blood pressure, you may feel just fine, but it’s still important to lower your levels. Lowering high blood pressure reduces the risk of heart-related problems like stroke or heart attack. That’s why it’s important to get your blood pressure checked regularly.

What can I do to improve my blood pressure?

If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes to reduce your blood pressure, such as:

  • Losing weight
  • Exercising regularly
  • Eating a healthier diet, rich in fruits and vegetables
  • Reducing your sodium intake
  • Limiting alcohol consumption

Your doctor may also prescribe a medication like TOPROL-XL (metoprolol succinate) to treat your blood pressure.

Ring in the new year by keeping your health in mind! Celebrate 2015 by checking your levels and talking with your doctor about an appropriate treatment plan.

Important Safety Information About TOPROL-XL® (metoprolol succinate) Extended-Release Tablets

Because of the possibility of serious side effects, such as chest pain or a heart attack, you should not stop taking TOPROL-XL suddenly. If your doctor decides you should stop taking TOPROL-XL, you may be instructed to slowly reduce your dose over a period of time before stopping it completely.

TOPROL-XL may not be right for everyone, especially people who have the following health conditions:

  • Extreme slowing of the heart rate
  • Sudden and severe drop in blood pressure and blood flow through the body because the heart is not pumping normally
  • Uncontrolled heart failure
  • Slowdown of the heart’s electrical signal causing a slower heart rate
  • Damage to the heart’s natural pacemaker that affects the heart’s rhythm unless one has a pacemaker device
  • Any allergies to TOPROL-XL or its ingredients

It is important to take your medications every day as directed by your doctor.

Patients who have asthma or asthma-like lung disease should, in general, not take TOPROL-XL.

Your doctor may not want you to take TOPROL-XL if you are currently taking certain types of high blood pressure medicine, or have adrenal gland tumors, diabetes, low blood sugar, liver damage, overactive thyroid disease, or hardening of the arteries in the arms or legs.

Your doctor may not want you to start taking TOPROL-XL if you are about to have any type of surgery.

If you have a history of serious allergic reactions, the usual dose of epinephrine (adrenaline) may not work as well if you are taking TOPROL-XL.

Until you know how you will react to TOPROL-XL, avoid activities that require alertness.

Contact your doctor if you have any difficulty in breathing.

In patients with high blood pressure, the most common side effects were tiredness, dizziness, depression, diarrhea, itching or rash, shortness of breath, and slow heart rate. If you experience any of these or other side effects, contact your doctor.

Approved Use for TOPROL-XL

TOPROL-XL is approved for the treatment of high blood pressure. It may be used alone or in combination with other medications to treat high blood pressure. It’s good for you to know more about your medical condition and the medicine you are taking for it, so talk to your doctor about high blood pressure and TOPROL-XL.

Click here for full Prescribing Information, including Boxed WARNING about suddenly stopping therapy with TOPROL-XL.

For more information about TOPROL-XL, or to receive TOPROL-XL delivered right to your door, visit TOPROL-XL.com.

©2014 AstraZeneca. All rights reserved.

TOPROL-XL is a registered trademark of the AstraZeneca group of companies

3079402 Last Updated 12/14

AZ Submits Recommendations to the Committee on Energy and Commerce to Better Serve Patients

With 3D printers that create human body parts to wearable technologies that transmit patients’ vitals in real-time to physicians, the paradigm of drug development is changing more rapidly than ever before. While the opportunities for innovation are boundless, recent figures from FasterCures, a center of the Milken Institute, suggest that there are still only 500 treatments available for an estimated 7,000 known diseases.

AZ1442_screenAt AstraZeneca, we’re committed to pushing the boundaries of drug development to get our medicines in the hands of those who need them most. This isn’t easy. For example, according to PhRMA, it takes drug companies 10-15 years to develop a new medicine, and costs $1 billion on average. For good reason, there are many laws and regulations that govern every step of the development process, but we need to ensure these laws do not unnecessarily hinder  innovation.

That’s why we’re excited to see the Committee on Energy and Commerce, part of the U.S. House of Representatives, taking a comprehensive look for the first time at how they can help pave the way for new cures and treatments for patients through the 21st Century Cures Initiative. The Committee on Energy and Commerce has  responsibility for a number of the nation’s key priorities, including food and drug safety, and oversight of multiple agencies like the Food and Drug Administration. Over the next several months, the Committee will continue to focus its efforts on finding ways to expedite the discovery, development and delivery of innovative treatments to patients. Representatives will examine how we conduct research, looking at newly available technologies and assessing the need to break down outdated administrative and procedural hurdles, to ensure the U.S. remains a leader in biomedical innovation. And they’re asking for input.

21st Century CuresMany key industry stakeholders have submitted recommendations to benefit the healthcare industry and patients around the world. On August 12, the President of AstraZeneca U.S., Paul Hudson, and Chief Medical Officer, Briggs Morrison, pledged our support for the initiative and submitted our recommendations, which:

  • ask the Committee to support translational research (research that turns basic discoveries into applicable outcomes);
  • encourage the modernization of the clinical trial ecosystem;
  • promote the regulatory acceptance of modern clinical trial designs, tools and methodologies; and
  • suggest that the Committee ensure that payers and formularly committees have relevant information about medicines from manufacturers to speed patient access to newly developed medicines.

It is our hope that these recommendations, taken together, can help to transform the healthcare industry, improve the lives of patients and dramatically enhance the current standard of care. We’ve already had several discussions with the Energy and Commerce Committee, and we applaud their efforts to look at how the Congress can play a role in accelerating progress in advancing medicine. We look forward to continuing this dialogue as part of our efforts to deliver on our ambition to achieve scientific leadership.

AZ at the Cannes Lions Health Festival – Digital innovation, moving beyond the pill

By John McCarthy, VP, global commercial excellence, AstraZeneca

McCarthy, John 2012 (USLT Picture)

The first ever Cannes Lions Health Festival held in Cannes, France, June 13-14, brought together healthcare communicators and brands to discuss the sector’s current state and collaboratively forge into the future.

I presented a seminar, along with our partner DigitasLBi, on advances in digital technology that are revolutionizing the wellbeing of patients, and minimizing strain for health service providers. I spoke to how AstraZeneca’s unique patient-centric approach is enabled by rapid product prototyping, testing and learning – the DIG model.

DIG stands for Digital Innovation Group and is a collaboration between DigitasLBi and AstraZeneca. We’re a team with a broad range of skills taken from two very different industries. We came together to take on and solve some of the big challenges facing the pharmaceutical industry, from improving the way healthcare professionals work, connect and learn, to finding new ways to put patients in the driver’s seat when it comes to decisions about their health and treatment options.

The DIG model is a completely different way of working and aims to create products and services that are sustainable and that make a real difference both to doctors and to patients. I know that as DIG delivers more results through the rest of this year, we’ll see physicians and patients benefiting from our work.

John McCarthy at Cannes

I shared with the audience at Cannes the three approaches that are fundamental to success in digital innovation:

  1. Be different. It’s real easy to say. But you’ve got to be in a space that’s uncomfortable, you’ve got to free yourselves from your organization. If you want a different result, you’d better be different from the beginning.
  2. Be humble. There is humility in creating a learning environment. You have to put aside what you know. You have to be willing to listen to somebody else that has a better insight, who is more in touch with the patient, the process, the physician.
  3. Be brave. We’re in an innovative space and we fail a lot. We’re focusing on some things that we think are pretty successful to date, but we could still fail. We have another 20-25 ideas that we’ve already put on the shelf. Failure is real and, if you are still thinking in the old way it can tear you down. Or it can make you stronger.

As we further our digital innovation, we know it requires us to think differently and move from selling products to creating services that are meaningful to patients and physicians, in other words, moving beyond the pill.

It was a tremendous experience to participate and present at this global conference, while proudly representing the innovative work that AstraZeneca and DigitasLBI are advancing. These initiatives speak to AstraZeneca’s values – we are committed to helping physicians with the demands in their practices and solving problems for patients. We must put patients first – they have to be at the center of what we do. If we do this, I’m confident our work can make a truly meaningful difference.


AZ and DigitasLBi present together at Cannes Lions Health Festival

AstraZeneca understands the importance of leveraging new technologies to improve business practices that better serve patients and doctors. This Friday, June 13, AstraZeneca teams up with global strategic partner DigitasLBi to deliver The New Creative Process: Revolutionising the Wellbeing of Patients & Doctors, a digital communication seminar at the Cannes Lions Health Festival.The first ever two-day event, held in Cannes, France as part of the Cannes Lions Festival, unites healthcare communicators and brands to discuss the sector’s current state and collaboratively forge a way to the future.

Advances in digital technology have created challenges for healthcare professionals and their patients. Doctors face ever increasing workloads and the bewildering amount of online information makes keeping up with the industry’s already-swift pace especially difficult. However, by harnessing these digital tools, healthcare professionals have the opportunity to strengthen their relationship with patients and provide more efficient care. John McCarthy, Vice President of Global Commercial Excellence at AZ, and Ewen Sturgeon, Chief Executive of International at DigitasLBi, will reveal how AZ’s unique patient-centric approach is enabled by rapid product prototyping, testing and learning.

To follow the festival or join the conversation on Twitter, check out @Lions_Health, #CreativityInHealth and #LionsHealth.

Mental Health America and AZ Launch Mind Your Health Campaign

Paul Gionfriddo, MHA President and CEO

Paul Gionfriddo, President and CEO, Mental Health America

By Paul Gionfriddo, MHA President and CEO

For over a century, Mental Health America (MHA) has been a national leader in advancing mental health and I was thrilled to join this wonderful organization on May 1, 2014 as its new President and CEO. I’ve worked on mental health matters since my time in the Connecticut State legislature in the 1980s, so this is a new opportunity for me to work with old friends from around the country to build our constituency for mental health.

As a first step in that process, and in recognition of Mental Health Month in May, MHA created a new series of videos with support from AstraZeneca as part of our “Mind Your Health” campaign. The videos encourage people to use a mental health screening tool and can be seen in physicians’ offices and elsewhere around the nation. The series focuses on the four principles that guide us in our work: Prevention for all, Early identification and intervention for those at risk, Integrated health and behavioral health treatment for those who need it, and Recovery as a goal. Because our greatest challenge is often getting people to look beyond the stigma and seek medical care, the videos drive people to visit our new site, MHAScreening.org, where they can find a number of online tools to screen for mental health conditions and to get recommendations for care and support in their communities.

Thousands of online screenings have already been completed, which is a positive sign that we’re connecting with the people we need to reach to accomplish our goals.

We’re proud of our partnership with AstraZeneca and we think it will make a huge difference in the lives of so many people. After all, we all know the numbers – half of us will have a diagnosable mental health condition during our lives, and up to 6% of people live with serious mental illnesses. My son Tim is one of them. And he – now homeless on the streets of San Francisco – has had an extraordinarily difficult life because of it. So this affects me on a very personal level, too.

MHA believes that early identification and effective intervention and treatment are essential for people’s wellbeing. The “Mind Your Health” campaign is just our most recent effort to accomplish this objective, and we are very pleased to have AstraZeneca as our partner.

Click here to view the first of our videos.

About Paul Gionfriddo

Gionfriddo has held key health and public health-related leadership positions during a career spanning more than 30 years. In addition to leading nonprofit organizations in three states, he ran his own consulting business, specializing in public health, children’s health, primary care and mental health.


2991106 Last Updated 5/14


US FDA Approves EPANOVA® (omega-3 carboxylic-acids)

By Rod Wooten, Executive Director, AstraZeneca



AstraZeneca recently announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved EPANOVA® (omega-3-carboxylic acids) as an adjunct to diet to lower triglyceride levels in adults with severe hypertriglyceridemia (triglyceride levels greater than or equal to 500 mg/dL).

Triglycerides are a type of lipid (fat) found in blood and an essential energy source for the body. Some people have severely high triglyceride levels, meaning they have too much fat in their blood, and that can lead to serious health complications.  Nearly four million American adults currently have severe hypertriglyceridemia and this figure continues to increase along with the incidence of associated conditions, such as obesity and diabetes.

EPANOVA is the first FDA-approved prescription omega-3 in free fatty acid form. The dosage of EPANOVA is 2 grams (2 capsules) or 4 grams (4 capsules), making it the first prescription omega-3 to have a dosing option as few as two capsules once a day. It can be taken with or without food.

EPANOVA strengthens AstraZeneca’s existing portfolio of medicines and aligns with our strategic focus on scientific leadership. It reflects our ongoing commitment to developing treatment options and supporting health care providers, patients and caregivers.

EPANOVA® (omega-3-carboxylic acids)
Indication and Important Safety Information

EPANOVA is a prescription medicine used along with a low fat and low cholesterol diet to lower very high triglyceride (fat) levels in adults.

It is not known if EPANOVA changes your risk of having inflammation of your pancreas (pancreatitis).

It is not known if EPANOVA prevents you from having a heart attack or stroke.

Important Safety Information for EPANOVA® (omega-3-carboxylic acids) Capsules

  • Do not take EPANOVA if you are allergic to omega-3-carboxylic acids or any of the ingredients in EPANOVA
  • Tell your doctor if you are allergic to fish or shellfish, or if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or plan to become pregnant or breastfeed, as EPANOVA may not be right for you
  • Talk to your doctor about any current medical conditions you have and any medications you are taking, including prescription and over the counter medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements
  • Take EPANOVA exactly as your doctor tells you to take it and do not change your dose or stop taking EPANOVA without talking to your doctor
  • Your doctor should do blood tests to check your triglycerides, bad cholesterol (LDL-C) and liver function while you take EPANOVA
  • EPANOVA may cause serious side effects including increases in blood tests for liver function (ALT and AST) and for bad cholesterol (LDL-C), and possible allergic reactions if you are also allergic to fish or shellfish
  • The most common side effects of EPANOVA are diarrhea, upset stomach, abdominal pain or discomfort, and burping

Please see full Prescribing Information

2985606 Last Updated 5/14


On Mother’s Day, AZ Recognizes Women Living With MBC

Visit http://www.MyMBCStory.com and plant a flower in the Inspiration Garden to support women living with metastatic breast cancer.

Mother’s Day can be particularly emotional for women living with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) and their families. This Mother’s Day and throughout the month of May, join AstraZeneca in supporting these women and the MBC community by visiting My+Story at www.MyMBCStory.com and planting a flower in the Inspiration Garden. In support of this initiative and others, AstraZeneca will donate to breast cancer organizations for their continued support of women living with MBC. Help us reach our 500-flower goal by May 31!

New to the site is Jewel Crawford Ajibade’s personal account of her own MBC journey. A wife, a mother, and a friend to many, Jewel is no stranger to breast cancer. Her mom and aunt both lived with the disease, and dealing with her own diagnosis requires strength each day. Despite the challenges of managing the disease, Jewel has directed her energy into patient advocacy work with LBBC and has become a source of inspiration for others. Read her story here.

The My+Story site also houses tools and information tailored for women living with MBC, including treatment options and tips on disease management. To reinforce the power of imagery and the importance of capturing memories, visitors may also create a customized, hard copy photobook of personal stories that may be shared with loved ones. The Web site is designed to connect the MBC community with the information they need and links to patient support groups that have specific programs for patients with MBC.


2971504 Last Updated 4/14

AZ Leaders Host Patient Centricity Dinner Discussion

AstraZeneca’s Paul Hudson and Greg Keenan mingle with dinner guests.

AstraZeneca’s Paul Hudson and Greg Keenan mingle with dinner guests.

At AstraZeneca, patients are why we come to work every day.  We always seek to understand and reflect their needs.  And we pay close attention to the wider healthcare environment and continuously look for opportunities to collaborate, exchange ideas and learn from others across the industry who share a common goal of improving patient health.

On Monday, April 21 in Washington, D.C., AstraZeneca leaders – including Paul Hudson, President, AstraZeneca U.S. and Executive Vice President, North America; Greg Keenan, Vice President of Medical Affairs and U.S. Head Medical Officer; and Rich Buckley, Vice President of North America Corporate Affairs – were joined by 20 leading experts and executives to explore the topic of patient centricity in an evolving healthcare environment.

The participants, who represented a broad range of stakeholders including businesses, nonprofit groups and media, shared their knowledge and perspectives on the state of patient care and how a patient centric approach can help drive quality healthcare.  Maggie Fox, senior writer on health issues for both NBCNews.com and TODAY.com, served as moderator for the discussion.

“As the healthcare landscape continues to change, the role of the patient in making healthcare decisions is transforming as well,” said Hudson.  “As the industry seeks ways to adapt, it is imperative that we work together to understand patients’ challenges and priorities so we can identify and deliver solutions that improve their experiences and outcomes.”

AstraZeneca’s Paul Hudson leads a dinner discussion with attendees about various patient centricity topics.

AstraZeneca’s Paul Hudson leads a dinner discussion with attendees about various patient centricity topics.

Topics addressed included the future of patient-centered care, the most impactful way the industry can be engaging patients moving forward, and where various stakeholders can be playing a larger role.  Participants agreed that aligning incentives in the healthcare system – so that providers are rewarded for quality of healthcare and great results – is important to ensure care is truly patient-centered.   Innovative ideas for getting patients more engaged in their care were also discussed, along with the need to truly understand first what matters to patients and then build treatment plans from there.

The dinner was part of a series of events coordinated by National Journal LIVE, a premier events business that convenes top leaders in the Washington, D.C. area for dialogue on how to solve the country’s biggest challenges.