August 1st, 2009

Letter to the Editor on Exclusivity on Biosimilars

In a letter to the editor in today’s Washington Post, Jay P. Siegel, Chief Biotechnology Officer, Johnson & Johnson, explained his support for longer exclusivity periods for biologics in response to a recent editorial that argued for fewer years of data protection. As Jay described:

“While patents provide protection against identical competitors, they often do not provide protection against variants that could be deemed biosimilar.

In contrast to The Post’s assertion, this situation would leave wiggle room for a biosimilar company to work around patents, allowing competition far sooner than would be possible for traditional generic drugs and thereby failing to maintain adequate incentives for innovation.

Data-exclusivity — the period before a competitor can use an innovator product’s clinical data to gain FDA approval — provides an alternative tool for achieving a fair balance. Data exclusivity of 12 to 14 years for biologics creates parity with the de facto 12 to 14 years of exclusivity before generics are allowed for traditional drugs under the 1984 Hatch-Waxman Act, which has achieved good balance.”

Read the entire letter here

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July 29th, 2009

New Way RA

From Brian Kenney, Senior Director, Corporate Communications, Centocor Ortho Biotech Inc.

 

Today’s blogosphere provides vivid personal accounts about the realities of what it is like to live with a chronic condition like rheumatoid arthritis (RA). There exists a very active community of RA bloggers (such as All Flared Up, The Single Gal’s Guide to Rheumatoid Arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy, and Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior) who share perspectives and questions about many related topics.

 

Listening to the perspectives of this social community has helped us to understand more about how RA can affect a person’s quality of life. For example, everyday activities that most of us take for granted – participating in family or work activities, spending time with friends, dating, exercising – can be daunting when someone must contend with stiff, swollen and painful joints routinely, and untimely flares of such symptoms.

 

There is a new online talk show, New Way RA, that focuses exclusively on addressing topics of overall health and well-being for people living with RA. The show provides expert advice and practical information through an engaging and accessible web-based format. Visitors to the site can view the entire show online, listen to real-life anecdotes from people living with RA, register to receive a free copy of the DVD, and access resources for more information.

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July 22nd, 2009

A Healthy Partnership

From Mai Kristofferson, Corporate Communication

They say ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away.’ Well, for many members of the nearby New Brunswick community, (where our world headquarters is located) fresh produce hasn’t always been readily available. That is, until Rutgers University and the city of New Brunswick teamed up to establish a bi-weekly farmer’s market with the help of a grant from Johnson & Johnson.

Opened recently, the market is all about encouraging healthy lifestyle choices in New Jersey inter-cities, especially for those of modest means. Not only can people who visit the market buy locally grown fruits and vegetables, but they can learn about nutrition counseling, cooking demonstrations, and food budgeting and safety practices as well.

When we heard about it, Marc, Rob and I packed up our bags (and a video camera) and headed over to check it out. You can learn more about this effort in this video we put together at the ribbon-cutting ceremony:

 

As I was sitting in the summer sun at the ribbon cutting ceremony, I was struck by just how important access to fresh fruits and vegetables can be to the health of an entire community. As Rutgers President Richard McCormick explained, many of us fill our diets with empty calories and unhealthy foods.

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July 20th, 2009

Celebrating Scientific Achievements

By Frederik Wittock, Senior Director, Global Communications, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Services, L.L.C., Division of Janssen Pharmaceutica, N.V.

Each year, we honor the work of passionate and creative scientists who have made an impact on human health through the Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research. Dr. Paul Janssen, better known as Dr. Paul, founded Janssen Pharmaceutica, N.V. in 1953 (Janssen Pharmaceutica, N.V. joined the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies in 1961). Dr. Paul was a gifted and dedicated physician and scientist who helped save millions of lives through his contribution to the discovery and development of more than 80 medicines.

 

This year’s award winner, Axel Ullrich, Ph.D., director of the Department of Molecular Biology at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Germany, certainly embodies the spirit of Dr. Paul. The work of Dr. Ullrich has helped to significantly improve the lives of those with chronic diseases, including diabetes and cancer. His discoveries have led to novel cancer therapies and genetically engineered human insulin, among others.

 

I had the opportunity to attend the award announcement in London during the 6th annual World Conference of Science Journalists, of which Johnson & Johnson is a sponsor. This was the perfect venue to celebrate the achievements of Dr.

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July 17th, 2009

Image of the Week

20061010_kick_start_farms_233

Kick Start Farms

Nairobi, Kenya
 
With the goal of eliminating poverty,
Kick Start develops low-cost agricultural and construction equipment for micro-entrepreneurs in Africa, allowing local farmers and craftsmen to develop profitable small-scale enterprises, creating jobs and promoting sustainable economic growth. Johnson & Johnson supports Kick Start’s work in Kenya.
 
The photographer, Willie Davis, captures the pensive look of a Kenyan woman who stands amidst the crop that would have been difficult, if not impossible, to grow without the use of Kick Start’s micro-irrigation technologies. These technologies provide the means for Kenyan farmers to develop very profitable small businesses. The close focus of Davis’ photograph creates a delicate image that contrasts the lush green trees with the woman’s face.

 

(Photographer: Willie Davis, a Johnson & Johnson – International Center of Photography Fellowship recipient)

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July 2nd, 2009

A Case for Comparative Effectiveness Research

From Pat Molino, Vice President, Public Affairs & Corporate Citizenship, Johnson & Johnson

How can doctors and patients know which therapies or procedures are the best ways to treat different medical conditions? Comparative effectiveness research, which compares therapeutic approaches, has been posited as a key way to get answers to these questions, and it’s become part of the ongoing health care reform debate in the U.S.

In an editorial in this morning’s Washington Post, Johnson & Johnson Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bill Weldon shared his perspective on the topic. weldon In his editorial, Bill said that when used properly, comparative effectiveness research – or CER — can help create a more efficient, quality-focused, and patient-centered health care system that maintains incentives for innovation and growth. Though recognizing that there are “many patient groups, physicians and developers of treatments” who are concerned that CER could be used to restrict access to a broad range of treatments, Bill explained that:

“…that doesn’t have to be what happens here. By carefully allotting the stimulus funding, the federal government can lay the groundwork for how a permanent institute devoted to comparing treatments could work.

Achieving this goal involves addressing the concerns of those who worry about the impact of this research on access to treatment.

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June 30th, 2009

What You Need to Know About Acetaminophen

The following post is from Dr. Ed Kuffner, Sr. Director, McNeil Consumer Healthcare

Recently, there have been reports about acetaminophen, the medicine in TYLENOL® and the potential for liver damage if the medicine is misused or taken in overdose amounts. The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) held a public meeting yesterday and today to discuss this very issue. As the makers of Tylenol, we share the FDA’s goal of helping to ensure that over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medicines are used safely and properly. As a physician, I can tell you that my medical colleagues and I have been actively involved in the conversation – and are committed to finding the right solutions.

What do people need to know about acetaminophen and liver damage? Tylenol, when taken as directed, remains the safest pain reliever people can take. It’s important for people to know that it’s not the recommended dosage of acetaminophen that poses the risk. Rather, it’s when people take more than the recommended dose either intentionally, often because they think it will work better — which is not the case — or unintentionally, often because they don’t realize that several products they are taking at the same time (both prescription and OTC) each contain acetaminophen.

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June 30th, 2009

A Ripple Effect…

A few colleagues and I just completed a trip to Central America where we visited several NGOs with whom we partner on micro-financing projects. You may be asking, so what in the world is micro-financing? Essentially, micro-financing (also known as micro-enterprising or micro-credit) focuses on providing small start-up loans (usually $100 – $500 each) to individuals in resource-poor settings that enable them to create small, community-based businesses to improve their livelihood. This is a growing phenomenon over the past several years; thousands of organizations are doing a wide range of projects around the world.

 

Micro-financing appears to be an excellent platform upon which to deliver small business training and health education messages in community-based settings.

 

Our trip included stops in Costa Rica and El Salvador where we visited remote locations to see firsthand just how the concept of micro-financing plays out. A few examples…

 

In Costa Rica, we partner with Fundebase and APACO on projects that provide loans and a dose of health education, disease prevention, and wellness programs to local communities along the way. We visited with a mother and daughter in Santa Cruz de León Cortéz, for instance, who received a loan to start a sweater-knitting business. The loan enabled them to purchase a knitting machine, yarns and other materials to take a first step.

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June 24th, 2009

Testifying on the Health Reform Bill

Earlier today, Kathy Buto, Vice President for Health Policy here at Johnson & Johnson, testified before the U.S. House of Representatives about the draft Tri-Committee Health Reform Bill . In her formal remarks, Kathy described how reform represents an opportunity to enhance access to healthcare and to improve the affordability of medicines and medical treatments and how the company is convinced that wellness and prevention will improve the healthcare system.

Overall, Kathy emphasized how the company believes that the best healthcare system is one that serves as many people as possible.

Rather than cover all aspects of the draft bill, Kathy focused on topics where Johnson & Johnson could provide some perspective that the committee could find helpful, including wellness and prevention, comparative effectiveness research, Medicare Part D, and options available through the health insurance exchange.

I’ve included a copy of her remarks below for your perusal:

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June 24th, 2009

ADHD — A Family’s Story

After we launched the Johnson & Johnson health channel on YouTube in August of last year, one of the first videos I posted was a series on ADHD which was originally produced by Dr. Nancy Snyderman. The first part called ADHD: A Child’s Diagnosis told the story of Davina Beacham, a 37 year-old artist whose oldest son Brad was recently diagnosed with ADHD. During the course of this diagnosis, Davina discovered that she too had ADD (without the hyperactivity).

Now Davina is a frequent visitor to social media sites like YouTube, and when she saw that the video she was featured in was running on the Johnson & Johnson health channel, she felt compelled to leave a comment. When I saw her comment, I contacted her and asked if she was interested doing a follow up video. We decided that we would, and so I grabbed a cameraman and drove up to Dover, MA, to visit Davina at her home. She and her family were extremely gracious, and we did interviews with Davina, her husband, Hal, and her two boys Brad and George.

Subsequent to the original video two years ago, she also learned that George, her younger son, was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome as well as ADHD.

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