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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.

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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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Royal Canin connects pet owners to trusted veterinary professionals

Pet owners across the Philippines can now access over 20,000 free pet checkups and 4,000 BMPV care kits for their furry friends through the Royal Canin Club mobile application, as well as other pet rewards made available on the platform.

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Royal Canin launched its Bring My Pet to the Vet (BMPV) campaign as part of its commitment to champion responsible pet ownership among Filipino pet parents. Pet owners across the Philippines can now access over 20,000 free pet checkups and 4,000 BMPV care kits for their furry friends through the Royal Canin Club mobile application, as well as other pet rewards made available on the platform. 

Over the past year, more Filipinos are turning to pets as their trusted quarantine companions. However, a survey by Kantar shows that 93% and 50% of cat and dog owners, respectively, do not get their pets checked regularly. The survey also highlights that most owners only bring their pets to the veterinarian for vaccinations and medical procedures, reflecting how wellness checkups are not common in the Philippines.

With this, Royal Canin introduced the BMPV campaign to encourage both new and old pet owners to bring their pets to the vet as early and as regular as they can, and understand the importance of pet preventive healthcare and medicalization. The campaign also underlines the role that veterinarians play in Filipinos’ pets’ lives, as it provides a platform for pet owners to connect with their trusted vet partners and clinics, ultimately building a more connected and engaged pet community in the Philippines. 

This year, Royal Canin leverages its mobile platform, the Royal Canin Club app, to strengthen its 2019 Bring My Dog to the Vet (BMDV)  campaign and relate to more pet owners nationwide. To claim the free checkup, pet owners just need to claim the free consultation voucher under the mobile application’s rewards, find the nearest clinic in the store locator by selecting the Vet feature, and reach out to the clinics directly to book their appointments for consultation. On the day of their appointment, pet owners need to present their generated checkup QR code on their Royal Canin Club app to avail of the free consultation. Afterward, users are encouraged to complete their post-checkup survey for more amazing perks and rewards in the application.

Royal Canin’s BMPV campaign seeks to redefine its previous campaign, which gave away 3,000 free consultations for Filipino pet owners through the company’s website.  Now made available on the Royal Canin Club app, it becomes a culmination of two purposeful pet preventive healthcare campaigns. It hopes to further educate pet owners about the signals to watch out from their pets to guide them and encourage them to work closely with their vets in achieving optimum health for their beloved furry friends.  

“We, at Royal Canin, recognize the value of preventive pet healthcare and the important role that our veterinary partners and clinics play in one’s pet’s life. Through our new Bring My Pet to the Vet campaign, we hope to instill this mindset and become a platform for pet owners to build a stronger bond with their veterinarians as we work together to safeguard the health of their pets even during such unprecedented time,” says Adriann Eusebio, Royal Canin Philippines’ Country Director. “We want to highlight how important it is for pet owners to have access to credible and reliable pet information, as we continue to improve our services with our loyal customers and partners giving us actionable insights about pet healthcare along the way.”

As the vet checkups require physical visits, Royal Canin ensures everyone that their partner veterinarians and pet shops follow the strict safety protocols of the government when taking in patients and customers. The company works closely with vet clinics to ensure that all pet owners secure appointments first before their visit to avoid overcrowding in their establishments. 

“We understand the safety concerns of our partners and customers about going out to visit their vets amid the pandemic. With the lockdowns still in place, our BMPV campaign also ensures to encourage pet owners to become responsible citizens, as much as they are as pet parents, and abide by proper COVID-19 protocols of their vet partners and clinics to avoid the spread of the virus, “ adds Eusebio. “At Royal Canin, we aim to enforce extra precautions to address our customers’ concerns and are committed to improving our services by opening our lines of communication for improvement.”

For more information on Royal Canin’s Bring My Pet to the Vet campaign, pet owners may download the Royal Canin Club application, read about pet healthcare information, and claim their voucher through the platform. One may also visit the Royal Canin Philippines on Facebook and Instagram at @RoyalCaninPH for more details about the Royal Canin Club app and other updates about the brand.

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PLDT, Smart inspire hope through mental health campaign

The project is a platform where today’s generation of changemakers and mental health advocates create capsules of self-reflection and creative expressions. It is part of a series of mental health initiatives to be implemented all through May, in celebration of the Mental Health Awareness Month.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder from Unsplash.com

With the COVID-19 pandemic posing an extraordinary impact on our world today, PLDT and Smart, through its Better Today program, launched the “Time Capsule Project”.

The project is a platform where today’s generation of changemakers and mental health advocates create capsules of self-reflection and creative expressions. It is part of a series of mental health initiatives to be implemented all through May, in celebration of the Mental Health Awareness Month. 

The Time Capsule Project champions mental health awareness amid the pandemic. It empowers the youth to take a deep dive into their current mental health state by expressing these thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams through the power of art. These can be done through various forms such as drawings, paintings, poetry, or prose. PLDT and Smart recognize these as important and valid reflections of our time today. These serve as valuable lessons to learn in hopes for a better tomorrow. 

This project is one of the key components of Better Today, which is a collaborative initiative and platform of PLDT and Smart in line with its advocacy to educate and empower Filipinos towards digital well-being, family and child online safety, and youth empowerment and changemaking. 

The creation of time capsules is anchored on Better Today’s key narrative, which include passion and purpose, resilience, empathy and hope. These are things that enable us to become better versions of ourselves, enabling us to cope amid these dark and uncertain times. 

Aside from art entries, the Time Capsule Project also include other mental health initiatives such as the visual arts and writing workshop and a virtual storytelling series on mental health called, “Better Today Conversations”. 

Some of the changemakers and storytellers who will provide their messages of hope, include Words Anonymous, clinical experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) and advocacy groups such as MentalHealthPh and Youth for Mental Health Coalition. 

To know more about the Time Capsule Project and the details on how to join the art festival, please follow Better Today PH at (@bettertodayph) on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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Allianz PNB Life expands coverage for COVID-19 vaccines

Despite the variety of safe and effective options available to the public, and the numerous endorsements from health experts and authorities, public anxiety over vaccines persists. And while certain risks may cause concern, the vaccine’s benefits far outweigh them.

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Since the start of the Philippines’ mass vaccination program in March, over a million vaccines have been administered to Filipinos to fight COVID-19. However, slow rollout and low vaccination rates in the country prove that the population still has a long way to go before it can achieve herd immunity to end the pandemic.

So far, the vaccines available and given in the Philippines are Sinovac and AstraZeneca. Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin have also been approved for emergency use. Other vaccines expected to arrive in the coming months are Moderna, Gamaleya’s Sputnik V, Novavax, and those from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVAX facility. With these incoming vaccines, the government is expected to ramp up inoculation by the second half of the year to inoculate at least 50 to 70 million Filipinos within 2021. 

Despite the variety of safe and effective options available to the public, and the numerous endorsements from health experts and authorities, public anxiety over vaccines persists. And while certain risks may cause concern, the vaccine’s benefits far outweigh them. 

Recent data has shown that the four leading countries in terms of vaccination have succeeded in flattening or decreasing cases after inoculating over 40% of their population. In Israel, severe cases and deaths declined rapidly after more than 84% of its elderly population were fully vaccinated in February. This has allowed their authorities to ease up on previous restrictions and for the public to now go mask-free.

“All is well” in building immunity against COVID

At present, Allianz PNB Life is one with the Filipino people in fighting COVID-19. “COVID-19 has posed many different challenges to people’s health and finances. Much like the vaccines available now, Allianz Well! is a timely offer that can protect people from the effects of the pandemic, including but not limited to COVID-19,” said CEO Alexander Grenz.

Through Allianz Well!, customers can get their COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is available from a preferred healthcare provider. Its Wellness Benefit covers up to Php 10,000 yearly and allows reimbursement for vaccines up to this amount. On top of a quick and easy claims process, the policy fully covers hospitalization and emergency care for COVID-19, along with cancer treatment, dialysis, and organ transplant. 

It also offers convenient and reliable care with unlimited, 24/7 expert telemedicine consultation. With an annual plan limit of Php 100 million that’s one of the highest in the country today, it can supplement any existing HMO so you can get treated whenever and wherever by your chosen provider.

“Our policy is tailored to ensure that Filipinos get the best and most comprehensive kind of coverage,” said Grenz. “This is our way of saying that all is well and all should be well because Allianz is with them during COVID-19 and beyond.”

To help ease worries surrounding vaccination, below are answers by the World Health Organization, Department of Health, and Philippine General Hospital to some of the frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine:

  • What is vaccine efficacy?
    Vaccine efficacy is the effectiveness of a vaccine in controlled trials. WHO requires vaccines to have an efficacy rate of at least 50% and ensures they undergo rigorous testing and screening before they are approved. For example, a vaccine with a 50% rate reduces your chances of contracting COVID-19 by 45%. So far, all approved vaccines are 100% effective in preventing severe symptoms, hospitalization, and death due to COVID-19. 
  • Does the COVID-19 vaccine have any side effects?
    Side effects are common not just in vaccines but other prescription and over-the-counter drugs too. Side effects from vaccines indicate that the body is starting to protect you from the virus. Common ones include fatigue, body pains, fever, chills, and nausea which last only a few days. 
  • Who cannot take the vaccine?
    Only those who show allergic response to the vaccine after the first dose or its certain components from past treatments should not take it. Individuals who are allergic to other vaccines, immunocompromised, and/or pregnant or breastfeeding mothers with comorbidities should consult their doctor before getting vaccinated. The same goes for those receiving steroids, anticoagulation therapy, and/or antibody-based COVID-19 therapy.

Before taking any important steps regarding your health, it is always best to consult a medical professional. Allianz urges everyone to stay well, informed, and future-proof through the pandemic.

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