PHARMACY

CVS/pharmacy offering free health screenings through ‘A Su Salud’

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. CVS/pharmacy will be offering free health risk assessments and screenings to people in underserved areas nationwide during 2010 via its “A Su Salud” (To Your Health) health fairs.

More than 800 events are scheduled for 2010 in cities including Miami; Los Angeles; Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston and Corpus Christi, Texas; San Francisco; and Sacramento and Fresno, Calif.

“This recession has made it more critical than ever for people to have access to adequate and affordable health care,” stated Troy Brennan, M.D., chief medical officer for CVS Caremark. “Hispanics are disproportionately affected by chronic diseases like diabetes and we are pleased to help make these health services more accessible to help aid in early detection and lower their risk levels for disease and complications.”

The fairs provide diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol and osteoporosis screenings, and also examine patients for oral care, provide referrals for mammograms and pap smears, and offer consultations with doctors and pharmacists. In 2009, CVS/pharmacy provided free and low-cost medical screenings and services valued at $49 million to the community through the A Su Salud program and direct referrals from the events.

Of the more than 195,000 people screened during last year’s events, many health concerns were discovered, including:

  • 33% had high cholesterol
  • 36% had a high to moderate risk of developing osteoporosis
  • 28% had hypertension
  • 22% had diabetes, with more than half being diagnosed with diabetes for the first time.

In addition, many of the health fairs included cancer screening for women where more than 16,000 women across the country were referred to these free services. This year, CVS/pharmacy will again partner with local and state agencies to host mobile units offering low-cost and no-cost cancer detection services for women, including mammograms and pap smears.

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FDA approves expanded use of Crestor

BY Alaric DeArment

WILMINGTON, Del. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new use for a cardiovascular drug made by AstraZeneca, the drug maker announced Monday.

The FDA approved Crestor (rosuvastatin calcium) for reducing the risk of stroke, heart attack and surgical restoration of blood flow – known as arterial revascularization – in patients without obvious coronary heart disease but an increased risk of cardiovascular disease based on age, presence of risk factors for cardiovascular disease and quantities of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein in the blood of 2-mg per liter or more. Crestor already had approval for treating other cardiovascular health risks when used along with changes in diet.

“Not only is this approval a significant milestone for AstraZeneca, but it is also important for the patients who could now benefit from Crestor therapy under this approved indication,” AstraZeneca chief medical officer Howard Hutchinson stated.

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CMS: U.S. health spending hits $2.5 trillion as Rx costs reach $246 billion

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON Healthcare spending in the United States climbed 5.7% to $2.5 trillion in 2009, despite the impact of a struggling economy, according to projections issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and published in the journal Health Affairs.

Healthcare expenditures now comprise 17.3% of the nation’s total gross domestic product, CMS estimated. Over the next decade, the agency predicted, health spending will jump at an average rate of 6.1% a year, versus a projected average annual gain of 4.4% for the overall GDP.

With more Americans losing their insurance and Medicaid enrollments rising, public spending for health care will continue to grow faster than health spending in the private sector, the government predicted.

The rise in total health costs was not quite matched by the growth of prescription drug spending, CMS economists estimated. Total prescription drug spending rose a projected 5.2% last year, the agency reported in Health Affairs, to a U.S. total of $246.3 billion.

That marks an accelerating trend for drug spending, according to the journal, which cited “an increase in per person use of drugs, driven by the need for antiviral drugs to treat H1N1, and by higher price growth in brand-name drugs.”

Long-term growth of both overall healthcare expenditures and the prescription drug market will continue at a steady clip, government analysts predict. CMS pegs total drug expenditures at $457.8 billion by 2019, Health Affairs reported, “with spending growth expected to accelerate over the projection period due primarily to increases in drug prices.”

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