PHARMACY

The pharmacist is in

BY Jim Frederick

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT Edith Rosato’s appearance on CBS affiliate WUSA-Channel 9 in Washington earlier this week — in the midst of a massive snowstorm that kept many Washingtonians at home in front of their TV and computer screens, including, presumably, health policymakers –- was another highlight for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, where she serves as head of pharmacy affairs and the NACDS Foundation. More importantly, it was another PR coup for community pharmacy in its long campaign for recognition and a full seat at America’s healthcare table.

(THE NEW: NACDS’ Rosato gives Capitol area viewers tips for keeping compliant with their meds during the blizzard. For the full story, click here)

True to form, Rosato was providing patient counseling — on a mass scale. Her live, on-air help in answering patients’ questions about how to manage chronic disease and drug therapy may have done more to highlight the valuable role pharmacists play in accessible patient care and disease management and prevention than a dozen appearances by pharmacy leaders on Capitol Hill — or a dozen letters to congressional leaders.

Rosato is no stranger to bench pharmacy practice and face-to-face patient counseling. Her early career included service as a pharmacy manager for both Thrift Drug and CVS [now CVS Caremark].

It’s clear, based on the increasing number of times Rosato and other articulate pharmacy leaders are turning up in widely read and viewed media in this country, that NACDS and other pharmacy groups are gaining important ground in their mammoth effort to enhance pharmacy’s position in the fractured health care system. It’s also clear that NACDS’ hiring of Steve Anderson three years ago as president and CEO was no mistake: this politically savvy, well-connected Washington insider has proven adept at getting both the organization and the community pharmacy profession itself into the spotlight, both on Capitol Hill and in the public eye. He, along with Bruce Roberts, who heads the National Community Pharmacists Association, have proven themselves as the most effective leaders to spearhead the interests of chain and independent pharmacy in many years.

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Obese children at risk of early death, study finds

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Obese children carry a risk of dying before age 55 years, more than twice that of the thinnest, according to a study published Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers at New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center and other sites examined data on 4,857 nondiabetic Pima and Tohono O’odham Native Americans born between 1945 and 1984, starting from around the age of 11. The researchers chose the two groups because their rates of obesity and Type 2 diabetes began increasing before those of the general U.S. population. The researchers then tracked them from childhood to adulthood.

Of the 559 who had died by 2003, diseases or self-inflicted injury – such as alcohol poisoning or drug overdoses – had contributed to the deaths of 166. Those with the highest body mass indexes in childhood were more than twice as likely to have died prematurely than those with the lowest indexes. Meanwhile, those with the highest blood glucose levels had premature death rates 73% higher than those with the lowest.

“Obesity, glucose intolerance, and hypertension in childhood were strongly associated with increased rates of premature death from endogenous causes in this population,” the authors concluded, referring to causes of death related to diseases and self-inflicted injuries. “In contrast, childhood hypercholesterolemia was not a major predictor of premature death from endogenous causes.”

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Sanofi-Aventis may pursue generic, OTC businesses

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Pfizer, Merck & Co. and Roche have made big mega-acquisitions. Eli Lilly has pumped money into research and development. Sanofi-Aventis, however, has pursued a more modest means of boosting its drug business and fending off generic competition, according to published reports.

Bloomberg quoted Sanofi CEO Chris Viehbacher as saying that the company would pursue the same strategy this year that it did in 2009, acquiring several smaller companies, such as its $1.9 billion acquisition of Chattem, which it completed this week.

Another way the company has found to retain profits in the face of generic competition is to make generics itself, particularly in emerging economies. In April 2009, it bought Mexican manufacturer Laboratorios Kendrick and Brazil’s Medley, followed in July by Czech drug maker Zentiva.

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