HEALTH

Lobbying groups urge Congress to keep diabetes testing supplies accessible to patients

BY Antoinette Alexander

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Pharmacy groups are urging Congress to maintain access to diabetic testing supplies in retail pharmacies for patients with diabetes.

In a letter to Senate and House leadership, the American Pharmacists Association, Food Marketing Institute, National Association of Chain Drug Stores and National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations stated: "Medicare patients with diabetes rely heavily on local retail pharmacies for prescription medications and diabetes testing supplies. Pharmacists help seniors with diabetes understand the best way to use their diabetes testing equipment and are uniquely positioned to help identify changes in patients’ conditions that may require additional referral and treatment. This coordinated care is vital to seniors with diabetes, helping them manage their disease, navigating through the various options available to them and preventing more costly interventions."

In 2003, Congress created the Medicare Part B competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment. While diabetic testing supplies are considered durable medical equipment under the Medicare program, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services excluded diabetic testing supplies furnished by retail pharmacies from the competitive bidding process to ensure access to these supplies for diabetic patients. APhA, FMI, NACDS and NASPA are urging Congress to maintain the current exclusion in the competitive bidding program for all retail pharmacies providing diabetes testing supplies for Medicare beneficiaries.

"Ending the retail pharmacy exclusion from the competitive bidding program would be a major mistake. This would significantly reduce access to local pharmacies as a source of care. Limiting access to supplies and pharmacist consultation will lead to under-testing, decreased medication adherence, poorer outcomes and increased costs," the letter continued.

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HEALTH

NPA calls on members to oppose Dietary Supplement Labeling Act

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The Natural Products Association on Thursday launched a grassroots campaign to oppose the Dietary Supplement Labeling Act, recently introduced in Congress by Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and is urging its more than 1,900 members to ask their legislators to oppose the legislation by sending them a letter at NPAinfo.org/Durbin.

According to the association, the bill would direct the Department of Health and Human Services to create a list of ingredients and proprietary blends of ingredients that “could cause potentially serious adverse events.”

"This overly broad language takes the regulation of supplements well beyond the current, effective rules governing the industry,” the NPA stated.

Durbin cited the issue of energy drinks and foods masquerading as dietary supplements when introducing the legislation. NPA executive director and CEO John Gay responded, “The NPA supports actions by the [Food and Drug Administration] to hold accountable those who violate the law, and we’ve done our part through self-regulatory activities to ensure accuracy, quality and safety in the dietary supplement industry. … The U.S. supplement industry has an excellent safety record, and burdensome, duplicative new regulations are not needed."

“It may appear that this proposal has an uphill climb in this Congress, but it is important that we do not let bad bills get any traction," Gay added. "If we do not make our position known, we could find ourselves facing a bill with 30 co-sponsors.”

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+MD Wellness Gel Spa Socks

BY Michael Johnsen

+MD Wellness showcased its line of Gel Spa Socks that help moisturize and heal conditions like eczema, psoriasis and cracked, dry skin. Selling for a suggested $13.99, the gel is a thermoplastic rubber that does not disintegrate with use like many silicone products. The TPR gel also is hypoallergenic, absorbs shock and is washable and reusable. The yarn content in the body of the sock is 80% cotton, 18% polyester and 2% spandex. The socks are available in blue and pink colors. For more information, visit Linwellness.com/Products.html.

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