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Doctors Counter Allergy Surge With Surgery

Allergists and doctors concur that this year is one of the worst allergy seasons in Valley history. The combination of rain, heat and wind have spurred plant growth, with multiple counties reporting higher levels of tree pollen much sooner than in previous years. As a result, doctors are seeing an uptick in patients with sinus problems and are offering advice and treatments to stop the sniffles. Dr. Jacob Offenberger, an allergist at Dignity Health Northridge Hospital Medical Center, said he has seen a 15 percent increase in sick visits to treat allergies, while Dr. Marc Kerner of Calwest Head & Neck Surgical Institute in Northridge and Westlake Village has observed a 25 percent increase. “This year, because of the rain, we are going to get a long allergy and pollen season,” Offenberger explained. “Most people started getting sick around February.” To not miss work, Offenberger advises people who know they suffer from allergies to always carry an asthma inhaler and allergy medication with them, in case symptoms arise. For people who don’t know they have allergies, if they have cold-like symptoms that last for more than 10 days, they should go see a doctor as it is most likely allergies. “Unlike a few years ago when most (allergy) medications were prescription only, now both nasal sprays and antihistamines are all over-the-counter. If you take the medication and it doesn’t get better in a week or two, it’s time to see a doctor,” he said. For more severe cases, Calwest’s Kerner offers a newer procedure called balloon sinuplasty, which uses a small balloon attached to a guide wire to open up blocked sinus passageways and drain mucus from the area. The entire procedure takes about 20 minutes with zero recovery time, so a patient can go back to work the same day. The process begins with a small injection of anesthesia. Once numb, a balloon catheter is inserted into the sinus and is then inflated to open it up. From there, a saline solution is sprayed into the sinus to flush out mucus before removing the device. Balloon sinuplasty is covered by Medicare and most major insurers, and costs around $2,500 before insurance reimbursement, Kerner said. He has seen a 30 percent increase in this surgery this year, and added that more than 90 percent of his patients experience allergy relief after the procedure. Simulations Plus Acquisition Simulations Plus Inc., a Lancaster pharmaceutical modeling software provider, is acquiring Dilisym Services Inc. of Research Triangle Park, N.C. through a stock purchase agreement. Dilisym provides similar services to Simulations Plus but is focused on the modeling of drug-induced liver injury. Upon closing, which is slated for June 1, Dilisym will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Simulations Plus but will continue to operate under the Dilisym name. The move will increase Simulation Plus’s employee count to 79 from 68 and is expected to add more than $3 million in revenue in 2018. “The combination will significantly strengthen our software and consulting services efforts, and bolster our management team as well,” Walt Woltosz, chief executive of Simulations Plus, said in a statement. “I am pleased that the existing management team of Dilisym Services will remain with the company.” Under the terms of the agreement, Dilisym shareholders will receive up to $10 million – $5 million up front and as much as an additional $5 million over the next three years, based on the profitability Dilisym adds to the company. Sienna’s Series B Sienna Biopharmaceuticals Inc. of Westlake Village has completed its Series B financing round, which raised $40 million. The clinical stage medical dermatology and aesthetics company intends to use the money toward its pipeline as it continues to develop topical treatments for pruritus, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis as well as laser treatments for acne and light-pigmented hair removal. The financing was led by Chicago-based Arch Venture Partners and VenVest Capital in Santa Monica. New investors, such as Fidelity Management & Research Co. of Boston, invested approximately half of the funds raised with the remainder coming from first round firms, such as Altitude Life Science Ventures of Kirkland, Wash. “We are very pleased with the support of investors who share our commitment to developing innovative and disruptive new products in medical dermatology and aesthetics,” Sienna Chief Executive Dr. Frederick Beddingfield III said in a statement. Staff Reporter Stephanie Henkel can be reached at (818) 316-3130 or shenkel@sfvbj.com.

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