HEALTH

Efficacy of anti-smoking treatments in question

BY Diana Alickaj

NEW YORK Treatments that are used to help smokers quit the habit have been shown not to have very effective results, based on studies conducted by the companies that manufacture them.

According to the American Legacy foundation, smokers quit an average of 11 times. The problem with anti-smoking drugs is that they only address the physiological parts of the addiction and not the behavioral. David Gonzales, co-director of the smoking cessation center at the Oregon Health and Science Center in Portland, feels that the only way to control the behavior aspect of quitting would be by counseling, according to CNN.

The most promising drug is Chantix, according to a study conducted by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, where—during a 12-week period—about half the patients tested were able to quit smoking. However, after the 12-week period, the number of smokers that successfully quit went from half to about one in four.

Health risks related to suicidal behavior have be reported in conjunction with many of the drugs, such as Chantix or Zyban, which is said to be only 14.6 percent effective.

In addition to the pills, a vaccine has also entered the debate as an option for smokers trying to quit. The new alternative, available in 2010, Nabi Biopharmaceuticals’ NicVAX is said to be 42 percent effective after 12 months. As a result of all the new treatments available, most experts agree that there is room for improvement in this field, but until then smokers will have to be careful with whichever medications they use to curb their addiction.

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NACDS submits statement on its members’ efforts to curb drug abuse

BY Adam Kraemer

ALEXANDRIA, Va. In preparation of Wednesday’s by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs and the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control entitled “Generation Rx: The Abuse of Prescription and Over-the-Counter Drugs,” the National Association of Chain Drug Stores submitted a statement for the record.

Among the contents of the statement, the Association commended Senator Joe Biden, D-Del. “We thank Chairman Biden, and members of the Subcommittee and Caucus on International Narcotics Control, for the opportunity to provide this statement on the abuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs. As healthcare providers of these critical and highly beneficial products, we are deeply concerned about the problem of consumers’ using these products in potentially harmful ways. We will continue to work with Congress and the administration to find solutions to curb drug abuse.”

In the statement, NACDS shared that its members have taken to restricting access to methamphetamine precursors, implementing age restrictions on dextromethorphan and dihydroepiandrosterone products, and working with states to implement prescription monitoring programs.

NACDS also stressed their commitment to working with Congress to craft legislation that will shut down rogue Internet operators while still allowing legitimate pharmacies to function. In addition, the association urged Congress to work with the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration to issue regulations allowing the electronic prescribing of controlled substances.

E-prescribing, NACDS stated, offers numerous benefits that can help reduce the abuse of controlled substances. “A paperless prescribing system is preferable to today’s paper world because it adds new dimensions of safety and efficiency to current practice. Moreover, electronic prescribing offers enhanced controlled substance reporting and monitoring capabilities that allow the DEA, as well as state and local law enforcement agencies, the ability to identify potential abuse immediately.”

The full text of the statement can be found here.

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Iowa bill to track meds purchases passes House

BY Michael Johnsen

DES MOINES, Iowa House File 2265, which would create an electronic system to track the purchase of products containing pseudoephedrine, passed the Iowa House on Monday and has been forwarded to that state’s Senate.

If the bill passes, retailers would be obligated to use the electronic system to instantly check the photo identification of people buying PSE-containing cough and cold products. The system would prevent the practice of “smurfing,” by which drug abusers in search of PSE products acquire the maximum amount of product they can buy at one store, only to buy more at another store down the road.

According to a report in the Des Moines Register, House File 2265 would set up a pseudoephedrine advisory council to help the Iowa Board of Pharmacy implement an electronic monitoring system.

The local daily also noted that the proposal does not allocate money to help the state set up the system, a cost estimated at around $230,000. In addition, depending upon what type of system is ultimately adopted, retailers could be charged a fee of as much as 10 cents per transaction and also be obligated to purchase a $900 device per store to scan identification cards, the paper added.

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