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AstraZeneca’s Dapagliflozin now approved to treat adult patients with heart failure in Phl

Dapagliflozin, a medicine developed by British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, is now approved in the Philippines for the treatment of adult patients suffering from heart failure.



Dapagliflozin, a medicine developed by British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, is now approved in the Philippines for the treatment of adult patients suffering from heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) to reduce the need for hospitalization and risk of mortality.

With the approval, Dapagliflozin is the first and only drug under the sodium glucose transport protein 2 inhibitor (SGLT2i) class approved to treat heart failure in adult patients with reduced ejection fraction. It is the only SGLT2i proven to significantly prevent cardiovascular death and death due to other causes in these heart failure patients.

In a virtual discussion hosted by AstraZeneca Philippines, experts from the Philippines and around the world talked about the latest medical development and treatment for heart failure.

According to Dr. Erlyn Demerre, chair of Heart Failure Program at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City, heart failure is dominating the cardiovascular landscape not just in the Philippines but globally. It is considered a global pandemic affecting a lot of people worldwide and it is increasing in prevalence.

Global data show that the overall known prevalence rate of heart failure is three to 20 patients per 1,000 population although this exceeds a 100 per 1,000 in those age 65 years and over. The annual incidence of heart failure is one to five per 1,000 and the relative incidence doubles for each decade of life after the age of 45, and that in one in three die within a year and one out of four are re-admitted in a hospital in 30 days with much morbidity and poor quality of life.

“It is still an ongoing pandemic. Much work has been put into the study of heart failure and we are definitely on a better position in the diagnosis and management of heart failure now. But, ironically, despite medical management and significant advance in therapies and prevention, heart failure is still a major and increasing burden all over the world with high mortality and morbidity and poor quality of life,” said Demerre.  

Lotis Ramin, country president at AstraZeneca Philippines, relayed that nine out of 10 patients are symptomatic even with current heart failure standard of care (SoC), and nearly one-third or one out of three patients suffering from heart failure with reduced ejection fraction are at risk of hospitalization which increases the risk of mortality.

Professor David Sim, president of the Heart Failure Society in Singapore, noted that nine million people in Southeast Asia have heart failure with an overall 15% mortality rate. However, pharmacological options for heart failure have increased over the last decade and guideline-directed heart failure pharmacotherapy cumulatively reduced mortality by 76%. 

Sim emphasized that “the approval of Dapagliflozin for the treatment of HFrEF in the Philippines is a major step forward in the battle against the disease burden of heart failure. Together with the current standard of care, Dapagliflozin will contribute further to a lower mortality, less hear failure hospitalization and importantly a better quality of life for patients suffering from heart failure.”

In his presentation on Dapagliflozin and Prevention of Adverse-outcomes in Heart Failure Trial (DAPA HF) Trial: A New Era in Heart Failure Management, Professor Piotor Ponikowski of the Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology cited that “heart failure is becoming a preventable and treatable diseases, with medication that allows patients to live longer and live better outside of hospital.”

It is the first outcomes trial with an SGLT2 inhibitor investigating the treatment of HFrEF. The results showed a reduction of 26% in the occurrence of cardiovascular death, hospitalization for heart failure (hHF) and Urgent Hospital Visit for heart failure along with a 30% reduction in hHF. Dapagliflozin’s significant 18% reduction in cardiovascular death and 17% reduction on death due to other causes which were only seen in the DAPA HF study.

“Dapagliflozin has the ability to reduce mortality, prevent hospital admission, improve clinical status, functional capacity, and quality of life,” said Ponikowski.

With the confirmation of Dapagliflozin as a medication to treat adult persons suffering from heart failure with reduced ejection fraction, Ramin said “we hope this development and Dapagliflozin life-saving efficacy can transform the heart failure standard of care.”

REYNALDO “Rey” R. VICENTE’s career experience involves mostly research in publishing companies. He previously held the position of Research and Events Director of Media G8way Corp., publisher of Computerworld Philippines (CWP), PC World Philippines, and IT Resource. He also handled events organized for CWP. Prior to this, he was a Research Head of a business publication. Now as co-publisher of Zest Magazine, Rey also serves as Managing Editor. Rey finished his bachelor’s degree majoring in Economics at the University of Santo Tomas.

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Smile Train expands cleft care services in Phl

Every day, more than 540 babies are born with a cleft around the world, an ongoing reality that calls for comprehensive solutions to help them overcome challenges and live a happy, healthy life.



Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft organization, announced today the establishment of four Comprehensive Cleft Care (CCC) centers across the Philippines to increase accessibility of treatment to cleft-affected individuals and their families.

Every day, more than 540 babies are born with a cleft around the world, an ongoing reality that calls for comprehensive solutions to help them overcome challenges and live a happy, healthy life. 

For the past two decades, Smile Train has supported more than 64,000 cleft surgeries through its 50+ partner hospitals and organizations throughout Philippines. As the organization marks its 20th anniversary in the country, it is further expanding its services to include nutrition support, orthodontic and dental treatment, and speech therapy in more locations across Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. 

“Smile Train’s goal is to provide those born with a cleft the necessary holistic care beyond their initial surgeries. We will continue to build a network that will bring comprehensive cleft care to Filipinos, so they have the support and the tools they need to overcome any challenge. Through this network and these comprehensive cleft centers, we aim to ultimately provide them the ability to work, play, and live happy, healthy and productive lives,” said Kimmy Coseteng-Flaviano, Smile Train’s Vice-President for South East Asia. 

Smile Train’s geographical and programmatic expansion comes as the organization celebrates National Cleft and Craniofacial awareness month this July. Smile Train has launched comprehensive cleft centers at partner hospitals including the Philippine Band of Mercy and Marikina St. Vincent General Hospital in Metro Manila, San Fernandino Hospital in Pampanga, and Mabuhay Deseret Foundation in ARC Hospital in Cebu. At these centers, in addition to surgeries, parents and patients in need can access nutrition counselling and nutrition services, orthodontic treatment, and speech therapy sessions at no cost.   

These institutions have served as Smile Train’s partners for years, helping patients from across different provinces and performing thousands of cleft surgeries with the assistance of Smile Train, and will be continuing to do so in an increased capacity as CCC centers. Philippine Band of Mercy has performed 25,300 Smile Train-funded cleft surgeries since 2002; Marikina St. Vincent has performed 1,900+ cleft surgeries since 2011; San Fernando Hospital has done over 1,000 cleft surgeries since 2011; and Mabuhay Deseret Foundation has performed 1,500+ cleft surgeries since 2008. Additional partner hospitals will be able to provide CCC in the coming months.  

More on Comprehensive Cleft Care (CCC)

Comprehensive cleft care complements cleft surgery, which Smile Train has been providing at no cost to families in need for over 20 years in the Philippines. Cleft treatment is not a one-off process or even just a series of surgeries, but often requires a holistic approach including nutritional support, dental and orthodontic care, psychosocial support, and speech therapy. CCC is provided by an interdisciplinary, supportive team of highly trained professionals that typically includes geneticists, nutritionists, surgeons, nurses, speech therapists, ENTs, audiologists, mental health counselors, dentists, and orthodontists, among others. For Smile Train and its medical partners, CCC means that each person with cleft has access to all the care they need in order to thrive.

The expansion of Smile Train’s CCC footprint also supports its efforts to promote a working telehealth network, which will allow patients to access CCC despite the challenges posed by the pandemic and geography.

In the Philippines, the pandemic has not gotten in the way of Smile Train’s efforts to help cleft patients, providing over 1,800+ surgeries (pandemic-related) done in 2020, and 1,120 in the first 6 months of 2021 with 26 partners actively doing surgeries.

Since the start of the pandemic, Smile Train’s speech telehealth program in the Philippines has treated over 200 patients, providing them with more than 1,000 cleft care-related sessions. Recently, the organization launched the country’s first Filipino speech therapy mobile application which serves as a platform for more patients and families born with cleft to continue to receive comprehensive cleft care with minimal disruptions.

For more information about Smile Train’s global efforts and to donate, please visit To learn more about Smile Train’s local programs in the Philippines, please visit, follow Smile Train Philippines on Twitter and Instagram @SmileTrainPh, and like us on Facebook at @SmileTrainPhilippines. The Smile Train Philippines mobile application can be downloaded via Google Play and App Store.

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Garmin launches Forerunner 55, encouraging Filipinos to pursue good health by running

With the simple press of a button, users can start their run or walk and track their time, distance, speed, pace and heart rate right on their wrist. The Forerunner 55 also offers detailed running data, daily suggested workouts and additional built-in sports apps.



Garmin invites all Filipino amateur and experienced runners to take their workout to the next level with the new Forerunner 55, an easy-to-use GPS smartwatch designed for people of all skill levels to track their stats and achieve their fitness goals.

With the simple press of a button, users can start their run or walk and track their time, distance, speed, pace and heart rate right on their wrist. The Forerunner 55 also offers detailed running data, daily suggested workouts and additional built-in sports apps.

“We know there are runners of all skill levels who prefer a simplified running watch,” said Garmin Asia Director Scoppen Lin. “With this in mind, the Forerunner 55 presents informative and digestible data that can help people reach their running goals and live a healthy lifestyle.”

Advanced running features

The Forerunner 55 offers runners a variety of tools to take their training to the next level. It has PacePro that guides runners in tailoring their efforts to a selected course or distance. Its finish time estimator lets users select a run distance and view their estimated finish time right on the wrist. For those hoping to improve their running form, the Forerunner 55 features cadence alerts to let runners know when they have gone outside their target cadence range.

The Forerunner 55 makes switching workout routines easy, thanks to several built-in activity profiles, including track or virtual running, pool swimming, Pilates and HIIT. The smartwatch also has Garmin Coach training plans that offer on-screen guidance from expert coaches and free 5K, 10K or half marathon training plans based on a runner’s goals.

All-day health and wellness tracking

Featuring a wide array of health and wellness features from Garmin Firstbeat Analytics, the Forerunner 55 is intended to be worn 24/7. Runners can track their stress and set relaxation reminders to do short breathing exercises.

The Body Battery energy monitor lets users track energy levels to find the best times for activity and rest, and gain insights into when and how intensity minutes are earned throughout the day. Additionally, women can track their menstrual cycle or pregnancy and log symptoms and receive exercise and nutrition education through the Garmin Connect app.

Connect and customize

The Forerunner 55 includes popular connected features2 to help runners stay in touch. Users can receive text messages and view social media updates, emails and more directly on their Forerunner smartwatch.

Built-in assistance and incident detection3 let users manually or automatically send a message with their real-time location to emergency contacts. The Forerunner 55 will also automatically upload activities to Garmin Connect and allow users to download custom watch faces, data fields and apps from the Connect IQ™ Store.

Get more runs and workouts in between charges with the Forerunner 55 today. It features up to 2 weeks of battery life on smartwatch mode and up to 20 hours on GPS mode.

Pricing and availability

The Forerunner 55 can be purchased for P11,395 in all Garmin Brand Stores, official online Garmin stores ( and the Garmin PH Viber Community. First 30 customers to purchase the Forerunner 55 will receive a free Garmin Thermos Flask Bottle in blue, pink or silver.

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Medtecs launches products

Medtecs set up its manufacturing facility in the Philippines in 1989. It has chosen the Philippines to be the site of its first plant to leverage the country’s English-speaking and well-educated workforce.



Medtecs International Corporation Limited, a producer and distributor of personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical consumables for the global healthcare industry, launched its products that include 3-ply FDA-approved face masks, medical isolation gowns, uniforms, coveralls and other new products. Timely to the needs of not only Filipinos but other nationalities in this time of pandemic, most of these products are made in its factory in Bataan while others are in Taiwan.  

“We’re very happy that during the pandemic, we’re able to supply these items to the Philippines, to our partners, and our customers, to make sure everyone who works and comes home with our PPE,” said William Yang, CEO and executive director of Medtecs International Corporation Limited.

Medtecs set up its manufacturing facility in the Philippines in 1989. It has chosen the Philippines to be the site of its first plant to leverage the country’s English-speaking and well-educated workforce.

The face mask the firm is producing is the 3-ply flat style or the three-layer fabric, where the middle layer or the filtration base determines the kind of protection level that will be provided. “A good quality face mask should filter out bacteria, and viruses,” notes Yang, and recommended the use of at least a medical-grade face mask for protection, which means 95% bacterial filtration efficiency.”  

Yang also said that in the production of face masks, they use two sets of testing equipment as they put a lot of emphasis in the quality of their products. He also said they are now producing face masks in different colors and designs so customers can stay in fashion. They also customize their products to meet requirements of interested customers and to come up with different masks or PPEs.

For the coming months, Medtecs will introduce new products. It will have a speedy test kit which will give out results within 30 minutes. Another product that will be launched is one that will boost immunity to fight COVID-19 on a daily basis, and a portable or handheld ultrasound that is being installed in Android phone that can be used anytime. It also has a choker, an anti-viral product which has 100 times more ions than others and it reduces discomfort.   

Medtecs products are available online, on its website and Facebook.

Medtecs is also doing some efforts to save the environment. The mask they produce doesn’t smell even if it is used in five to seven days as it kills bacteria, and thus, reduces pollution by 85%. It also launched reusable isolation gowns and coveralls to reduce the plastic it uses. 

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