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Growing awareness spotlights kids’ food allergies

BY Michael Johnsen

There has been an increase in awareness around pediatric food allergies and the potential children have for eating something they’re not supposed to while at school following the January death of a 7-year-old student in Virginia.

That death has both reinvigorated support behind the 2011 School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act — which would require schools to have epinephrine auto-injectors on hand — and generated awareness around the prevalence of food allergies in children today. “While many state policies allow students to carry this medication to school, including Virginia, there is an obvious lack of education about, and compliance with, this policy,” stated the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America in a January statement.

According to a recent survey released by the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, 47% of parents indicated that they were aware of one to two other children in their child’s classroom who also had food allergies. This finding is in line with the latest statistics that show 1-in-13 U.S. children have a food allergy, according to a study published in June by Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Highlights of the survey findings can be viewed here.

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Allergy attack: Warmer weather ushers in an earlier season

BY Michael Johnsen

A mild winter may be setting the stage for a particularly strong spring allergy season for sufferers allergic to tree pollens and mold. The incidence of seasonal allergy has been soft of late, but IMS Health is predicting a significant uptick in allergy sufferers in the coming months.

“It’s all relative,” Scott Hanslip, IMS Consumer Health director sales, shared with DSN Collaborative Care. Incidence across the 2011 fall allergy season was relatively flat; however, those allergy sufferers are being compared against fall  2010, which was a particularly strong season. Conversely, this coming spring season is expected to recover from what was considered a slow season last year at this time. “We’re expecting a fairly strong spring [allergy season] in 2012. We’re going to see more of a turn back to normalized conditions,” he said.

And this year the stronger spring allergy season will be felt particularly hard in the North and Northeast, where there is a strong predominance of allergy sufferers, Hanslip added.

Many allergy experts already have taken note of an early start to the spring allergy season on account of a mild winter — high tree pollens have been triggering allergies about a month earlier this year. And
while rain tends to keep tree pollen counts from getting too high, that
warmer weather combined with moisture make for ideal mold conditions.
Spring typically is considered to be a tree pollen season, followed by a prevalence of grass pollen allergens in the summer and ragweed allergens in the fall. Mold is considered a year-round allergy trigger but peaks in the spring when damp and rainy conditions, followed by warmer weather, lead to a high concentration of mold.

For a four-day allergy forecast in your area, go to Pollen.com.

To learn more, click here.

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Express Scripts SEC filing: PBM expects to close Medco merger next week

BY Michael Johnsen

ST. LOUIS — The Federal Trade Commission’s ruling on the Express Scripts and Medco merger may be imminent, Express Scripts noted in a Form 8-K filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday.

"Express Scripts and Medco have previously announced that the parties expected that the mergers will be completed by the earlier part of the second quarter of 2012," the company stated. "Express Scripts now expects the parties may be in a position to close the transaction as early as the week of April 2, 2012, subject to satisfaction or waiver of the remaining closing conditions. There is no assurance that the closing conditions will be satisfied or that the proposed mergers will be consummated."

According to published news reports, attorneys general in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas and California are considering filing suit to block the proposed Express Scripts-Medco merger in anticipation of an FTC approval. On Tuesday, the American Antitrust Institute and American Consumer Institute announced they will join antitrust attorney and former Federal Trade Commission policy director David Balto on Wednesday at 3 p.m. EST to issue a call to action to all other state attorneys general to join this effort and protect patients and consumers from rising prescription prices and decreased pharmacy services by opposing the merger.

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