HEALTH

CDC reports widespread flu activity in one state

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA For the week ended Jan. 2, there is now only one state reporting widespread activity of influenza-like illnesses — Alabama — though that state was not 1-of-the-4 states (Delaware, Maine, New Jersey and Virginia) reporting widespread activity in the week prior.

And Nebraska reported no ILI activity for the week.

Nationwide, 2.4% of patient visits reported through the U.S. Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network were due to ILI. This percentage is above the national baseline of 2.3%.

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HHS unveils National Health Security Strategy

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Thursday released The National Health Security Strategy, the nation’s first comprehensive strategy focused on protecting people’s health during a large-scale emergency. The strategy sets priorities for government and nongovernment activities over the next four years.

“As we’ve learned in the response to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, responsibility for improving our nation’s ability to address existing and emerging health threats must be broadly shared by everyone – governments, communities, families and individuals,” Sebelius stated. “The National Health Security Strategy is a call to action for each of us, so that every community becomes fully prepared and ready to recover quickly after an emergency.”

Among the initial actions, the federal government is conducting a review to improve the system for developing and delivering countermeasures – medications, vaccines, supplies and equipment for health emergencies; coordinating across government and with communities to identify and prioritize the capabilities, research and investments needed to achieve national health security; and evaluating the impact of these investments.

While the document does not specifically identify retail pharmacy as a healthcare resource in an emergency, Sebelius does call on local and state governments to incorporate the input and capabilities of the private sector into their overall emergency planning.

“The range of those participating and working together in these areas [the development of an effective medical countermeasure to a disaster situation] should be broadened beyond the federal government to include … pharmaceutical developers and academic researchers, the response community, medical and public health providers, and representatives of both the general public and at-risk individuals,” the document read. “Investments should be prioritized to effectively pursue those countermeasures that have the greatest potential to improve national health security, prevent or limit the spread of disease, limit the clinical impact of a health incident and have elements with potential widespread application even in the absence of a catastrophic event.”

Pharmacists, along with other healthcare professionals, are considered a key component of the overall public health workforce during a disaster. The document calls on local disaster coordinators to establish a network of emergency-response volunteers “who will be available to supplement the permanent workforce during a health incident; rapidly activate staff and volunteer personnel for emergency duty (e.g., to administer vaccines or medications at point-of-dispensing sites); provide treatment to the ill and injured at first aid stations, mass care centers, temporary clinics and other healthcare sites; provide staffing to EMS agencies; supplement hospital staff; [and] replace personnel who are unable to do their jobs because they themselves are victims of the incident.”

“Events which threaten the health of the people of this nation could very easily compromise our national security,” Sebelius said. “Whether it’s a pandemic or a premeditated chemical attack, our public health system must be prepared to respond to protect the interests of the American people. In order to be prepared to both respond to an incident and to recover, we need a strong national health system with individuals and families ready to handle the health effects of a disaster.”

For a copy of the full report, go to HHS.gov/aspr/opsp/nhss/strategy.html.

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P&G develops new program in line with Prilosec OTC

BY Michael Johnsen

CINCINNATI Procter & Gamble on Wednesday revealed a little of its Prilosec OTC marketshare protection strategy with the launch of the “Official Sponsor of Everything You Do Without Heartburn” program.

“Our consumers tell us that frequent heartburn prevents them from doing a lot of the things they love to do,” stated Robert Cleveland, Prilosec OTC brand manager. “Prilosec OTC provides powerful protection against frequent heartburn so our consumers can enjoy their passions, and these individualized sponsorships will help them take those passions to the next level.”

People can apply for a chance for sponsorship in one of 15 categories, which range from Health & Fitness, to Community Service, to Arts & Crafts, among others. To apply, consumers can visit OfficialSponsor.com, create a profile and fill out the sponsorship application. The application process includes the option to upload pictures or videos to express who they are and what they love to do. If selected, P&G will provide an average of $1,000 worth of resources to help take Prilosec OTC’s patient’s passions to the next level.

The public will have a chance to view every applicant’s online profile and vote for their favorites. The application deadline for the initial round of sponsorships is Feb. 22, and those chosen for sponsorship will be announced on or around March 19. A second round of sponsorships will be conducted shortly after.

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