HEALTH

CHPA abuse efforts working: DXM abuse holds at 3%

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The results of the 2016 National Institute on Drug Abuse and University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future survey released earlier this week determined the percentage of teens using over-the-counter cough medicine containing dextromethorphan to get high remains at 3%.

When first reported by Monitoring the Future in 2006, teen OTC cough medicine abuse was at just under 6%.

“The results of this year’s Monitoring the Future survey demonstrate that prevention through education works,” stated Scott Melville, president and CEO Consumer Healthcare Products Association. “There is no silver bullet to preventing DXM abuse, but abuse rates are down. This tells us that our approach of collaborating with parents, community leaders and elected officials to reach teens directly is working.”

CHPA works to reduce teen DXM abuse by following three strategies: increase parent engagement, heighten teen perception of risk and social disapproval and limit teen access to DXM.

In 2009, CHPA member companies placed a “PARENTS: Learn About Teen Medicine Abuse” icon on the packaging of DXM-containing cough medicines.  The icon serves as a mini public service announcement for parents, making them aware of cough medicine abuse at the point-of-sale and point-of-use and directing them to StopMedicineAbuse.org.

Additionally, CHPA collaborates with The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids to target teens likely to abuse DXM based on their online search activity and provide them accurate information about the consequences of this behavior. Teens are directed to visit WhatIsDXM.com to learn more.

 “We’re very encouraged to see teen misuse of over-the-counter cough and cold medications remaining at extremely low levels,” said Sean Clarkin, EVP research and external relations, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. “Prevention efforts enlisting parents as well as retailers, and reaching teens with engaging and effective messaging, appear to be having an impact.”

To help restrict teen access to DXM, CHPA supported the passage of state laws prohibiting the sale of medicines containing DXM to those under 18.  

Currently 12 states, including Alaska, Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington, have all passed this legislation, three of which passed this year thanks to CHPA’s active engagement.

CHPA strongly advocates for passage of national bipartisan legislation, the DXM Abuse Prevention (DAP) Act of 2015 (S. 2994, H.R. 3250). CHPA believes the bill is one way to limit teen access to the medicines and is an important part of prevention along with educating teens about the risks and mobilizing parents to talk to their teens and safeguard the medicines in their homes.
 

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Walgreens releases first flu index for the season

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill.  — Walgreens on Thursday launched its first Flu Index for the 2016-17 season, a weekly report that ranks the top markets and states for flu activity in the U.S. It's the third year for Walgreens' Flu Index, and this year will include Puerto Rico for the first time.

The Walgreens Flu Index is compiled using the chain’s weekly retail prescription data for antiviral medications used to treat influenza across Walgreens locations nationwide. In addition to the top markets and states for activity, the Flu Index also ranks those experiencing the greatest gains on a week-over-week basis.

“While flu activity remains relatively low across most of the U.S., our data suggests a gradual increase in incidences of flu in a growing number of markets,” stated Richard Ashworth, Walgreens president of pharmacy and retail operations. “Even with a slower start to flu season, the Flu Index helps health officials, media and consumers stay informed about the flu in their local community.”

For the week ended Dec. 11, the top 10 markets with flu activity were:

  1. Puerto Rico;
  2. Reno, Nev.;
  3. Lafayette, La.;
  4. Monterey-Salinas, Calif.;
  5. Honolulu;
  6. Harlingen-Weslaco-Brownsville-McAllen, Texas;
  7. Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.;
  8. Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas;
  9. Oklahoma City; and
  10. Columbus-Tupelo-West Point-Houston, Miss.

And the top 10 markets experiencing flu activity gains were:

  1. Puerto Rico;
  2. Monterey-Salinas, Calif.;
  3. Lafayette, La.;
  4. Columbus-Tupelo-West Point-Houston, Miss.;
  5. Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas;
  6. Charleston, S.C.;
  7. Tallahassee, FL-Thomasville, Ga.;
  8. Reno, Nev.;
  9. Waco-Temple-Bryan, Texas; and
  10. Oklahoma City.

Data for the Walgreens Flu Index is analyzed at state and geographic market levels to measure absolute impact and incremental change of antiviral medications on a per store average basis, and does not include markets in which Walgreens has fewer than 10 retail locations.

The Index is not intended to illustrate levels or severity of flu activity, but rather, based on this methodology, to show which populations are experiencing the highest incidences of influenza within the U.S. and Puerto Rico each week

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First of low-cost hearing-aid solutions hitting the market

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN LEANDRO, Calif.  — On Wednesday iHear Medical, announced a deal to provide low-cost hearing aid solutions to members of Ameritas, a highly regarded insurance, employee benefits and financial services company that manages $35.6 billion in total assets.

All told, about 20% of Americans, or 48 million, report some degree of hearing loss, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America. And while one out of three baby boomers have some sort of hearing loss, about 2-3 of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with a detectable hearing loss in one or both ears. In fact, almost 15% of school-age children (ages 6-19) have some degree of hearing loss.

"Millions of people suffer from hearing loss. It can affect a person's overall quality of life and relationships with others," stated Karen Gustin, Ameritas group division EVP. "We look forward to our partnership with iHear to make hearing aids more accessible and affordable for our customers and people nationwide."

The partnership with Ameritas offers next generation invisible hearing solutions at a fraction of the cost. Coming just one week following the Food and Drug Administration's announcement that the agency intends to make hearing aids available OTC, this offering is intended to break through persisting barriers preventing people from obtaining clinically effective hearing solutions, including overpricing of hearing aids, the stigma of wearing visible hearing devices and the cumbersome process of accessing hearing care through traditional channels.

iHEAR's offerings include the iHEARHD and iHEARMAX invisible hearing aids, and the iHEARTEST, the first and only FDA-cleared home hearing screener, according to the company.  iHEAR's advanced hearing solutions are offered at $299 before reimbursement, compared with programmable hearing aids available at hearing centers costing $2,400 on average for a single hearing aid, and often more than $6,000 for a pair.

iHear products combine high quality sound and online self-programming, and are backed by a 45-day satisfaction guarantee, professional support and remote programming by licensed hearing professionals.

iHEAR products are available directly to Ameritas customers from the iHEAR online store at www.ihearmedical.com.
 

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