PHARMACY

Study: CT scans could help predict early death among diabetes patients

BY Allison Cerra

WAKE FOREST, N.C. — A common test may help predict early death among diabetes patients, a new study found.

According to research lead by Donald Bowden, director of the Center for Diabetes Research at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, the examination of a patient’s coronary artery calcium score — which measures the amount of calcified plaque buildup in blood vessels — through a computed tomography scan, or CT scan, could indicate the patient’s risk of coronary heart disease, which can lead to premature death.

For the "Diabetes Heart Study," Bowden and colleagues followed nearly 1,500 patients with diabetes in North Carolina for about 13 years, gathering data on various aspects of the disease and how it affects individual health. The researchers separated the study participants into five groups, according to the amount of calcified plaque they had in their blood vessels at the beginning of the study. The health of those participants then was followed for an average of 7.4 years before researchers compared the data from those who died during the study with those who still were living.

"We saw a dramatic risk of dying earlier in the people with highest levels of calcified plaque in their blood vessels," Bowden and researchers said.

The new study appears in the May issue of Diabetes Care.

"People with diabetes are already at high risk of developing heart disease and experiencing an early death," Bowden said. "With this study, we’ve discovered that we can identify a subset of individuals within this high-risk group who are at even higher risk, and the means to do this is already widely available in the form of a CT scan — a relatively inexpensive and noninvasive test."

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American Diabetes Association announces new research grant for diabetes technology

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The American Diabetes Association announced that it will fund research that will examine the effectiveness of technology-based diabetes management devices.

The studies, funded by the American Diabetes Association/Medtronic Technology in Diabetes Fellowship, will utilize Medtronic’s CareLink database — a database of anonymous continuous glucose monitoring and insulin pump-derived data — to assess, evaluate and correlate the application of this and similar technologies used by patients with insulin-treated diabetes.

"Research like this will help us better understand patient behavior," American Diabetes Association’s president of medicine and science Robert Henry said. "In the long run, this research can help influence future diabetes technology and shape how we educate people with diabetes."

Those interested in applying for the research grant can visit the website here.

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NCPA bands together with legislators to communicate value of pharmacy

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — More than 350 independent pharmacists will be rallying with legislators in the halls of Congress Wednesday to help communicate the value pharmacists contribute to health care and to advocate for specific legislative initiatives as part of the 2011 Legislative and Government Affairs Conference of the National Community Pharmacists Association.

“The theme this year is more competition, more choice and more access for patients to their community pharmacists,” John Coster, NCPA SVP government affairs, said during a press conference call Tuesday afternoon.

On the agenda: communicating the challenges independents face both as small healthcare providers and small businesses, and advocating for legislation that will make the marketplace more competitive and will field better service providers.

NCPA also will be pitching congressional leaders on joining NCPA’s pharmacy caucus. Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., and Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., will co-lead the caucus in the House, Coster said. In the Senate, Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., will lead the caucus.

“We’ve generally, not to this point, had a caucus in the Senate,” Coster said. “That shows the increasing visibility community pharmacy has on Capitol Hill and the importance that members of Congress place on our role in the healthcare system.”

As for legislation, NCPA is lobbying support for the Pharmacy Competition and Consumer Choice Act, which will help level the playing field between retail pharmacy and mail-order pharmacy, and the Medicare Access to Diabetes Supplies Act, which will exempt independent pharmacists from competitive bidding requirements in the sale of diabetes supplies.

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