Retailers, drug makers can help cut diabetes rate
WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT The dramatic rise in the prevalence of diabetes over the next several decades is likely to place huge strains on the U.S. healthcare system, costing the country hundreds of billions of dollars every year. It also means the diabetes market will continue to be a hot bed for innovation for decades to come.
(THE NEWS: Diabetes prevalence among Americans may increase to 33%, CDC study finds. For the full story, click here)
Barring a cure for the disease or a dramatic reversal of current trends, the plague of Type 2 diabetes is likely to get worse and account for numerous hospitalizations, as it already does. According to the government Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, nearly 1-in-5 U.S. hospitalizations in 2008 were related to diabetes, with the greatest concentration in the South.
No individual, company or even government agency can reverse the trend on its own, but many — including retailers — can help. And that will continue to feed a frenzy of activity in this space.
Agrowing number of supermarkets across the country have used various means to promote healthy eating, ranging from easy-to-read nutritional rating systems to in-store nutrition experts and store tours. Meanwhile, pharmacists and retail clinicians, as healthcare providers, can use their expertise to spread awareness as well. Rite Aid stores will offer free Diabetes Solutions Days events Nov. 2 through 4.
Health insurer Anthem Blue Cross has won recognition for a pilot diabetes program, “Bridging Cultural Health Care Gaps: Diabetes,” which seeks to find culturally appropriate ways to communicate about diabetes to African-American and Hispanic members. Anthem conducted the pilot among 4,000 of its members in California and Georgia, and plans to expand the program to other states.
More of these localized types of efforts — borne out of the spirit of the Ashville Project — continue to arise.
And of course, manufacturers continue to lead the innovation, and many are going beyond just products. Novo Nordisk recently released the BlueSheet, a report that promotes awareness and education in the prevention and treatment of diabetes.
Combining Invirase, Norvir could cause health problems
SILVER SPRING, Md. Combining two antiviral drugs for HIV may raise the risks of life-threatening heart problems, the Food and Drug Administration warned Thursday.
The agency said it would require changes to the safety labeling for Genentech’s drug Invirase (saquinavir) following reports that combining it with Abbott’s Norvir (ritonavir) could lead to prolongation of the QT and PR heartbeat intervals. Prolongation of the QT interval could lead to an abnormal heart rhythm condition called torsades de pointes, which can lead to the potentially fatal condition called ventricular fibrillation.
“Patients should talk to their doctor if they have any concerns about their treatment,” FDA Office of Antimicrobial Products director Edward Cox said. “Certain drugs may interact with Invirase and increase the risk of developing these side effects, so patients should be sure to tell their doctor about other medicines they may be taking, including nonprescription medicines, vitamins and herbal supplements.”
Fresh & Easy gives away more than 200,000 reusable bags in September
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. Regional supermarket chain Fresh & Easy said its promotion of reusable canvas bags has been successful, with more than 200,000 bags given away in September.
Coupons for the free canvas bag were available to customers on mailers and flyers, as well as through the company’s Facebook fan page, Fresh & Easy said. Since opening its first store in November 2007, Fresh & Easy has given away more than 800,000 reusable bags at store openings, events and through giveaways. This past summer, the supermarket chain hosted a bag design contest.
“We are trying to remove barriers for customers so they use and reuse their reusable bags,” said Roberto Munoz, Fresh & Easy neighborhood affairs director. “We’re happy to see customers got excited about the promotion –– we want to engage our customers in making greener choices. We will continue to do these types of giveaways and promotions in the future to help encourage our customers to use reusable bags.”