PHARMACY

Kerr Drug teams up with The People’s Pharmacy program

BY Alaric DeArment

RALEIGH, N.C. Kerr Drug is underwriting a nationally syndicated public radio program focused on drug and health information, the regional retail pharmacy chain announced Monday.

Kerr will make content from the library of The People’s Pharmacy program available on its Web site under an agreement that calls for cross-promotional opportunities between the two, as well as with creators and hosts Joe and Terry Graedon.

“Through their nationally syndicated radio program, newspaper column and bestselling books, Joe and Terry Graedon are recognized as experts in prescription drugs, herbals and supplements, vitamins and home remedies,” Kerr president and CEO Tony Civello said. “Kerr Drug is pleased to partner with Joe and Terry Graedon and The People’s Pharmacy because we both respect people’s ability to make informed decisions about their health care.”

“The People’s Pharmacy” was one of the first books to provide drug and health information to consumers when it was published in 1976 and went on to become a bestseller, and the Graedons have written 14 more books since then. Their radio program reaches 250,000 people listening to 120 public radio stations every weak, while 80 newspapers publish their syndicated newspaper column.

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FDA approves expanded use of Crestor

BY Alaric DeArment

WILMINGTON, Del. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new use for a cardiovascular drug made by AstraZeneca, the drug maker announced Monday.

The FDA approved Crestor (rosuvastatin calcium) for reducing the risk of stroke, heart attack and surgical restoration of blood flow – known as arterial revascularization – in patients without obvious coronary heart disease but an increased risk of cardiovascular disease based on age, presence of risk factors for cardiovascular disease and quantities of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein in the blood of 2-mg per liter or more. Crestor already had approval for treating other cardiovascular health risks when used along with changes in diet.

“Not only is this approval a significant milestone for AstraZeneca, but it is also important for the patients who could now benefit from Crestor therapy under this approved indication,” AstraZeneca chief medical officer Howard Hutchinson stated.

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CMS: U.S. health spending hits $2.5 trillion as Rx costs reach $246 billion

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON Healthcare spending in the United States climbed 5.7% to $2.5 trillion in 2009, despite the impact of a struggling economy, according to projections issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and published in the journal Health Affairs.

Healthcare expenditures now comprise 17.3% of the nation’s total gross domestic product, CMS estimated. Over the next decade, the agency predicted, health spending will jump at an average rate of 6.1% a year, versus a projected average annual gain of 4.4% for the overall GDP.

With more Americans losing their insurance and Medicaid enrollments rising, public spending for health care will continue to grow faster than health spending in the private sector, the government predicted.

The rise in total health costs was not quite matched by the growth of prescription drug spending, CMS economists estimated. Total prescription drug spending rose a projected 5.2% last year, the agency reported in Health Affairs, to a U.S. total of $246.3 billion.

That marks an accelerating trend for drug spending, according to the journal, which cited “an increase in per person use of drugs, driven by the need for antiviral drugs to treat H1N1, and by higher price growth in brand-name drugs.”

Long-term growth of both overall healthcare expenditures and the prescription drug market will continue at a steady clip, government analysts predict. CMS pegs total drug expenditures at $457.8 billion by 2019, Health Affairs reported, “with spending growth expected to accelerate over the projection period due primarily to increases in drug prices.”

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