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Former Congressman writes editorial supporting the use of tamper-resistant PSE products

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — Former Republican Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert last week wrote an editorial for the Washington Times supporting the use of tamper-resistant pseudoephedrine products like Acura Pharmaceuticals' Nexafed and Westport Pharmaceuticals' Zephrex-D. 
 
"Two facts are clear," he wrote. "First, traditional pseudoephedrine products are getting accessed and converted to meth by both addicts and clandestine labs. We have to stop that. Second, as long as our policies remain stuck in neutral, we will continue to drift backward, kids dying because we are still using convertible pseudoephedrine products. What if we had relatively non-convertible products? Turns out, we do — and we need to use them."
 
While Hastert advocates "maximum access" to products containing PSE for the general public, he asserts that present-day policies combating methamphetamine production hasn't worked. "When [the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005] was enacted, we foresaw the one-day emergence of new, innovative technologies that prevented easy extraction and conversion of pseudoephedrine from cold medications into meth," he wrote. "Accordingly, we granted the Drug Enforcement Administration full authority to exempt from purchase restrictions any pseudoephedrine products that might come closer, by making conversion less economical. We provided an exemption for science that made it harder for traffickers to convert it to illicit meth."
 
Hastert suggested the DEA use this authority to exempt medicines like Nexafed and Zephrex-D from PSE purchase restrictions now. 
 
"While DEA can do this alone, Congress is now rightly pressing the case for instant action. In a bipartisan way, Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, Missouri Republican, has recently introduced HR 4502 — Stop Meth Labs and Enhance Patient Access Act," Hastert noted. That bill aims to “strike the right balance between keeping people safe and keeping people healthy,” and regrant to DEA “authority to balance the effectiveness of tamper-resistant technologies with processes currently being employed by meth manufacturers.” 
 
The bill is backed by the National Narcotics Officers’ Association, the National Sheriffs’ Association, the Major County Sheriffs’ Association and the Fraternal Order of Police, Hastert noted. 
 
Hastert served at the U.S. House speaker from 1999 to 2007, and managed much of the nation’s anti-drug legislation from 1995 forward.

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CVS Caremark announces commitment to ‘Technology Solutions for Smarter Health’ program

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Caremark, in partnership with IBM, has announced a $1.5 million commitment to the "Technology Solutions for Smarter Health" grant program in partnership with the National Association of Community Health Centers.

The grants will support the use of innovative technology in community health centers to increase patient engagement and to improve patient care and outcomes. The "Technology Solutions for Smarter Health" grants will be awarded to community health centers nationwide that are in need of advanced technology that will help people on their path to better health. The grants will enhance technology infrastructure currently in place to help centers easily communicate and share health information with patients through secure electronic messaging. The technology will also provide patients with the ability to view, download and transmit their health information online.

"We know that community health centers are seeing an increase in the number of patients they care for as a result of changes in our health care system, which is why we are partnering to invest in innovative technology solutions that will give them additional ways to communicate with patients and provide them with easy access to their health information," stated Eileen Howard Boone, president, CVS Caremark Charitable Trust. "We believe that the 'Technology Solutions for Smarter Health' program will provide community health centers and their patients with an opportunity to use technology in a meaningful way to help produce better health outcomes."

Today, more than 9,000 health center sites throughout the country are providing care for more than 22 million Americans. As local, community-based health care systems in rural and urban neighborhoods, health centers are able to provide direct health services that are both affordable and accessible.

The new "Technology Solutions for Smarter Health" program is in addition to the multi-million dollar, multi-year partnership between NACHC and CVS Caremark's foundation, the CVS Caremark Charitable Trust, which has awarded nearly 60 community health centers with "Innovations in Community Health" grants over the past two years to support the development of community-based programs and initiatives that focus on the treatment and management of chronic illnesses, specifically heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and asthma.

 

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Hamacher Resource Group, GMDC to host Rx-to-OTC switch webinar

BY Michael Johnsen

WAUKESHA, Wis. — Hamacher Resource Group on Monday announced that Dave Wendland, Hamacher VP, will present "Rx-to-OTC: Getting It Right at Retail," an educational videocast for retailers sponsored by the Global Market Development Center on Thursday, July 17.
 
The complimentary 60-minute videocast, to start at 1 p.m., will provide practical solutions for retailers to effectively capitalize on Rx-to-OTC launches and suggest strategies and tactics for educating consumers about these unique new products. Examples of recent best-in-class launches will be explored, as well as observations regarding the Food and Drug Administration’s potential view of future Rx-to-OTC switches.
 
“As the FDA continues to look for ways to improve access to healthcare, the pace of Rx-to-OTC switches is expected to pick up,” Wendland stated. “The challenge for pharmacies is to recapture the dollars that came from the formerly prescription-only item – recognizing that the number of potential outlets carrying this new OTC version increases more than tenfold.”
 
 

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