PHARMACY

Incorporating nuts into diet may help diabetics with blood-sugar control, cholesterol

BY Allison Cerra

FRESNO, Calif. — Consuming nuts in place of carbohydrates may help improve long-term blood-sugar control and lower cholesterol levels among Type 2 diabetics, according to a new study.

Researchers from University of Toronto and St. Michael’s Hospital studied 117 Type 2 diabetes patients over the course of three months who were randomized to 1-of-3 treatments. Groups were given either about 2 oz. of mixed nuts, a healthy muffin control or half portions of both at about 450 calories per 2,000-calorie diet. The diabetics that consumed the mixed nuts had a better handle on their blood-sugar control, based on HbA1C readings, and also saw a reduction in "bad" cholesterol levels.

"There are two important factors in caring for diabetes: blood-sugar control and heart health," said Cyril WC Kendall, study co-investigator. "This study found that eating 2 oz. of nuts, such as pistachios, daily as a replacement for carbohydrates improved both blood sugar (glycemic control) and ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL-cholesterol) in people with Type 2 diabetes. This is a very exciting and promising finding about the treatment of the disease."

The study was published in the June 29 edition of Diabetes Care.

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Accredo helps hepatitis C patients save up to $13K

BY Alaric DeArment

FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J. — Pharmacy benefit manager Medco Health Solutions’ specialty pharmacy division, Accredo Health Group, has managed to drive down costs for treating hepatitis C by an average of $13,000 per patient, the company said Tuesday.

Medco said Accredo had been successful in using genotype information to identify patients who only may need 24 weeks of therapy, as opposed to 48 weeks, thus reducing costs.

In addition, Accredo said its high-touch care model helps educate patients about their treatment and the need to adhere to it, as patients must be at least 80% adherent to therapy for their HCV treatment to be effective. As a result of its efforts, patients receiving therapy from Accredo’s nurses and specialty pharmacists are nearly 10% more adherent than those receiving therapy from other providers, the company said.

Two new drugs for hepatitis C — Merck’s Victrelis (boceprevir) and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incivek (telaprevir) — also hold promise. “These new drugs will likely be game changers for HCV patients, but patients are going to need help adhering to treatment,” Medco Rare and Specialty Therapeutics Resource Center VP and national practice leader Richard Faris said. “Medco’s enhanced clinical oversight and expertise in gene-based medicine enable us to help patients get the right treatment and stay on therapy.”

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Take Care to offer Core Performance wellness services to employer clients

BY Antoinette Alexander

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens and Take Care Health Systems have entered into a relationship with Core Performance to offer Core Performance corporate wellness services to Take Care Health Systems employer clients and bolster its service portfolio.

Take Care Health Systems is the nation’s largest manager of employer health, pharmacy and fitness centers, with nearly 400 locations throughout the United States. As part of the agreement, Walgreens has made a minority investment in Core Performance.

Core Performance offers wellness, fitness and nutrition programs developed by Athletes’ Performance, a resource for athlete training. Core Performance systems are designed to drive employee engagement and measurable wellness results through the development of personalized plans that are designed to empower an organization’s employees to change how they look, feel and perform at work and in life.

Core Performance programs can incorporate an array of elements, including Web-based instruction and results tracking, on-site fitness centers and workplace activation through health-and-wellness coaches with expertise in the Athletes’ Performance methodology.

"Walgreens and Take Care Health Systems have a track record of bringing cutting-edge pharmacy, health and wellness solutions to employers," stated Peter Hotz, Walgreens group VP. "An affiliation with Core Performance strengthens our service portfolio by enabling our clients to access and benefit from the expertise and methodology of one of the world’s foremost fitness, nutrition and performance providers. This comprehensive suite of offerings has the potential to drive a significant return for employers while improving the lives of their workforce."

According to Fuld & Co. research, employer health centers can offer employers savings of 10% to 30% on healthcare costs. The facilities generate savings by reducing costs for healthcare services, increasing productivity among the workforce and improving the overall health and well-being of the employee population.

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