PHARMACY

Hooper Holmes launches Diabetes Know Now!

BY Allison Cerra

BASKING RIDGE, N.J. Hooper Holmes announced a new, interactive health-screening platform that can efficiently identify people with undiagnosed diabetes or prediabetes.

Diabetes Know Now! is an innovative “screen before the screen” that combines an online diabetes risk assessment with an at-home diabetes laboratory test. Users complete an online diabetes risk assessment that places them in three risk categories — high, moderate or low. Users at high risk for having or developing diabetes then are offered an at-home test kit that allows them to collect their own blood sample and return it to Hooper Holmes’ Heritage Labs. Heritage Labs then completes a Hemoglobin A1c test, which the American Diabetes Association now recommends as the screening test for diabetes, and returns the results electronically to the secure Diabetes Know Now! account established by the user.

To commemorate the launch, Hooper Holmes made Diabetes Know Now! available to its employees in line with Diabetes Alert Day.

“Prior to Diabetes Know Now! there was not an effective and efficient way to target diabetes screenings,” said Chris Behling, president of Hooper Holmes health and wellness. “Now, instead of having to complete blood tests on an entire population, we can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our customers’ programs, by only needing to complete blood testing on a targeted group who are at the highest risk for having or developing diabetes.”

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PHARMACY

Safeway launches Safeway Health

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON Safeway is looking to expand its health plan initiative with the introduction of additional incentive-based programs.

Safeway Health, a new subsidiary of the grocery chain, will provide an incentive plan that includes such features as “greater transparency of provider and drug pricing,” said Ken Shachmut, Safeway SVP and EVP of Safeway Health.“Existing healthcare players are not well equipped to deliver the Safeway results.”

Safeway Health will provide analytics, plan design or redesign assistance, Shachmut said during a keynote address in Washington at the Business Health Agenda 2010 sponsored by the National Business Group on Health. As compensation, Safeway Health receives 25% of the savings generated over a five-year period, according to a Business Insurance report.

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Merck responds to FDA warning of simvastatin use

BY Alaric DeArment

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. Merck & Co. has responded to a warning by the Food and Drug Administration about potential safety risks in patients taking the highest dose of a drug used to lower cholesterol.

“Simvastatin, when used as a supplement to a healthy diet, can help reduce LDL cholesterol and reduce the risk of death form cardiovascular disease in patients at high risk of coronary events,” Merck chief medical officer Michael Rosenblatt said in a statement. “We support the FDA’s recommendation that patients continue their medication as prescribed by their physicians and that patients speak to their physician if they have symptoms or questions.”

The FDA warned patients and healthcare professionals Friday of the risk of muscle injury, also known as myopathy, in patients taking simvastatin in the 80-mg strength. Though muscle injury is a side effect common among all statins, the agency said patients taking higher doses of simvastatin run a higher risk. Of particular concern is the risk of rhabdomyolysis, a severe form of myopathy that can lead to kidney damage, kidney failure and sometimes death.

Merck originally marketed the drug under the brand name Zocor, though it now is available as a generic and is included as an active ingredient in several drugs, including Merck’s Vytorin (ezetimibe and simvastatin) and Simcor (niacin and simvastatin), marketed by Abbott and Solvay Pharmaceuticals. Vytorin is available with 80 mg of simvastatin, though Simcor is only available with 20 mg.

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