PHARMACY

PhRMA: California-based drug makers focusing on heart disease, cancer treatments

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — California-based companies are developing nearly more than one-fifth of the drugs to treat some of the deadliest diseases in the world, according to an analysis by the drug industry lobby.

According to two Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America reports released this year, of the 1,186 drugs under development for heart disease and cancer, 243 were from California companies. These include 188-of-the-887 drugs for more than 20 types of cancer, and 55-of-the-299 drugs for heart disease and stroke.

“California’s companies are on the front line in both the ongoing war on cancer and the intense fight against heart disease,” PhRMA spokesman Jeff Trewhitt said. “The drugs they are testing could prove to be important to patients all over the world, including [patients in] both the United States and California, where heart disease and cancer are also the two leading causes of death.”

According to PhRMA, more than 73,000 California residents died of heart disease in 2004, and heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer accounted for 54% of deaths among the state’s growing Latino population.

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Gestational diabetes risk increases among women that gain weight between first, second pregnancies

BY Allison Cerra

OAKLAND, Calif. — Women that experience body mass index gains between their first and second pregnancies are at an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes in the second pregnancy, according to a Kaiser Permanente study.

The study examined a diverse cohort of 22,351 women from Kaiser Permanente in Northern California over a 10-year period. Women who gained 2.0 to 2.9 BMI units (approximately 12 lbs. to 17 lbs.) between the first and second pregnancy were more than two times more likely to develop GDM in the second pregnancy, compared with those whose weight remained stable (i.e., plus or minus 6 lbs. between pregnancies). What’s more, women who lost more than 6 lbs. between the first and second pregnancy reduced their risk of developing GDM in the second pregnancy by approximately 50%, compared with women whose weight remained stable.

The study, which is said to be the first to examine whether weight loss before a second pregnancy reduces the risk of recurrent GDM, was published online in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

"[The results] support the avoidance of gestational weight retention and postpartum weight gain to decrease the risk of GDM in a second pregnancy, as well as the promotion of postpartum weight loss in overweight or obese women, particularly those with a history of GDM," according to study lead investigator Samantha Ehrlich, a project manager at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif.

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Script Your Future kicks off in Providence

BY Antoinette Alexander

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Members of a local coalition in Providence launched on Monday the Script Your Future campaign, which is part of a national effort to educate consumers on the importance of medication adherence.

Elizabeth Roberts, lieutenant governor of the state of Rhode Island, together with the National Consumers League on Monday will launch Script Your Future in Providence to raise awareness among patients about the health consequences of not taking medication as directed.

CVS Caremark, a national partner in the Script Your Future campaign, is headquartered in Rhode Island and will participate in Monday’s Providence launch.

Providence is 1-of-6 regional city markets where the campaign will pilot activities, research and advertising. The other regional markets are Baltimore, Md.; Birmingham, Ala.; Cincinnati; Raleigh, N.C.; and Sacramento, Calif.

"Nonadherence to medication is a major public health concern," Roberts said. "The Script Your Future campaign will bring tools and resources to our state and provide residents with education that ultimately will improve medication adherence and lead to Rhode Islanders living healthier lives."

More than one-third of medicine-related hospitalizations and nearly 125,000 deaths in the United States each year are due to people not taking their medicines as directed.

"CVS Caremark has undertaken significant health policy research in an effort to better understand why patients do not take their medications as prescribed, so we are very pleased to be a national partner in the Script Your Future campaign," stated Papatya Tankut, VP pharmacy professional services at CVS Caremark. "In the coming months, we will be providing information about the campaign in our 7,200 CVS/pharmacy locations throughout the [United States] in order to raise awareness about this important health issue with our customers."

U.S. surgeon general Regina Benjamin helped kick off the national campaign on May 11 in Washington, D.C. Medication adherence is part of the surgeon general’s prevention focus. "Our national challenge is to prevent poor health outcomes and to become a healthy and fit nation. One way is for the healthcare community and patients to come together to address the serious issue of medication nonadherence," Benjamin said.

"As a family physician, I know that conversations between clinicians and their patients are key to patients understanding why taking their medication correctly is so important, particularly in chronic health conditions such as diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure," Benjamin added. "The tools offered through NCL’s Script Your Future campaign empower patients to talk with their healthcare teams about their medication questions and concerns."

Script Your Future aims to educate and offer tools for patients to help them better adhere. Tools include free text message reminders, sample questions, medication lists, condition management sheets and fact sheets on common chronic conditions. All can be found on the campaign website, ScriptYourFuture.org.

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