HEALTH

Ross Valley Pharmacy develops medication management, diabetes counseling initiatives

BY Michael Johnsen

LARKSPUR, Calif. Ross Valley Pharmacy, an independent, locally owned pharmacy in Marin County, Calif., on Monday announced the availability of personalized medication management and diabetes counseling programs.

The MM program is designed to help local residents understand and reduce risk and side effects associated with taking multiple prescription and nonprescription drugs, supplements and vitamins.

Ross Valley Pharmacy’s counseling programs offer consumers the ability to create a profile that captures key information such as prescription and non-prescription drugs, vitamins, supplements, blood glucose levels, medical conditions, symptoms, height, weight and food by entering information on a customized version of TheCarrot.com’s popular, easy-to-use online platform. Once consumers, their family or caregivers enter the requested information, Ross Valley Pharmacy will assess the medication and/or diabetes profile and will schedule a one-on-one counseling session to educate and provide guidance on how to improve health outcomes. Patients with diabetes will be scheduled to see a Certified Diabetes Educator who evaluates blood glucose levels, medications and diet, the independent pharmacy stated.

“Many people often leave their doctor’s office not understanding why or how they should take prescribed medications,” stated Paul Lofholm, president of Ross Valley Pharmacy. “They look to a pharmacist to fill in communication gaps, but unfortunately, a pharmacist often doesn’t have all the information needed to provide comprehensive patient counseling. For example, at least 25% of medications consumed are over-the-counter drugs … these drugs, alone or when combined with other medications, vitamins and supplements, can produce harmful side effects. Our goals are to evaluate the aggregate effects of all the drugs an individual takes, educate consumers to better manage their health and arm them with the knowledge they need to ask their physicians the right questions.”

Examples of commonly unrecognized medication problems/issues include:

  • The decongestant pseudoephedrine can raise blood pressure;
  • There is an increased risk of liver damage when taking acetaminophen with Vicodin or Percocet;
  • Combining non-prescription Prilosec with such similar prescription stomach acid reducers as Aciphex or Protonix limits absorption of other medications and can lead to anemia;
  • Anti-depressants can trigger poor balance and falls;
  • People with epilepsy need to eat proteins because seizure-controlling drugs must bind to protein to work effectively;
  • Beta blockers, used to control blood pressure, can lower blood sugar;
  • Grapefruit juice slows the body’s ability to metabolize cholesterol-lowering Lipitor, leading to elevated blood levels of the drug; and
  • Calcium supplements halve the effectiveness of thyroid medications.

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HEALTH

HHS purchases 195 million doses of H1N1 vaccine

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Nearly 200 million doses of vaccine for novel A(H1N1) influenza could become available by this fall, according to published reports.

Reuters quoted a Department of Health and Human Services official as saying that the government had bought 195 million doses of vaccine. The U.S. population is approximately 300 million.

Since the flu strain appeared earlier this year, the World Health Organization has declared it a pandemic. Many health experts fear that if left unchecked, it could spark a devastating pandemic reminiscent of the 1918 Spanish flu, though that flu caused millions of deaths worldwide in part due to lack of medical technologies such as antiviral drugs.

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NCDP healthcare reform recommendations advocate for diabetes prevention, treatment and care

BY Allison Cerra

PRINCETON, N.J. The National Changing Diabetes Program, a program of Novo Nordisk, and several member associations urged President Obama and members of Congress to make the prevention, detection and treatment of diabetes, one of the nation’s most pervasive and costly diseases, a priority in reforming the U.S. healthcare system.

In an open letter to the President and lawmakers, NCDP said a national response to diabetes is required in order to transform health care and begin to ease the economic and personal burden of the disease, which is growing at an alarming rate. Today, more than 1-in-4 Americans have diabetes or pre-diabetes, and these two conditions are estimated to have cost the U.S. $218 billion in 2007 in medical care and lost productivity, according to a recent study.

Joining the NCDP in reaching out to lawmakers are the American Diabetes Association, the American College of Physicians and VSP.

“We applaud the effort to reorient our health care system to focus more on the prevention of disease, and nowhere is the need greater than with diabetes,” said Dana Haza, senior director of NCDP, an initiative created by Novo Nordisk to drive health systems change at the national and local level. “Not only does diabetes frequently result in devastating and costly complications, but diabetes also significantly increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, amputations and depression. So tackling diabetes early will make a huge impact on our nation’s overall health care system.”

The NCDP is calling on lawmakers to ensure diabetes is a top priority for health reform, including all new or expanded initiatives in public programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP. The organization said diabetes needs to be specifically identified as a priority condition for:

  • Patient-centered care models
  • Chronic care management programs
  • Health information technology programs
  • Programs to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in health care
  • Prevention and health promotion initiatives
  • Quality improvement initiatives
  • Quality-based incentives
  • Medicare and Medicaid demonstrations of new care models and delivery systems

“We are facing a unique opportunity to profoundly change health care in America and improve the lives of countless people,” Haza said. “Changing diabetes is essential to health care reform.”

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