HEALTH

Study finds full use of nicotine-patch therapy may prevent relapse

BY Michael Johnsen

PHILADELPHIA Future ex-smokers who utilize a nicotine-patch therapy longer may be less likely to relapse, according to a study published in Tuesday’s edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine, a journal of the American College of Physicians.

Over the course of a placebo-controlled trial from September 2004 through February 2008, 568 adult smokers were randomly assigned GlaxoSmithKline’s Nicoderm CQ for the product-recommended eight weeks followed by use of a placebo patch for 16 weeks or use of the Nicoderm CQ patch for the full 24 weeks.

At the conclusion of the study, those participants who had used the Nicoderm patch for a full 24 weeks were 19.2% more likely to have quit smoking altogether.

Extended therapy not only reduced the risk for lapse, but also increased the chances of recovery from lapses, according to the journal report.

There were differences in side effects and adverse events between the two groups.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

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CDC reports historic lows in flu activity

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA The flu news coming out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week is that there is no flu news to speak of, at least relative to flu seasons past.

For the week ended Jan. 23, influenza activity remained at approximately the same levels as last week, the CDC reported, which is below historical levels for January.

The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness was 1.7%, falling below the national baseline of 2.3%. Only 2-out-of-10 regions (the Southeast and Southwest) reported ILI equal to their region-specific baseline. No states reported widespread influenza activity, five states reported regional influenza activity and nine states reported local influenza activity. Three states reported no influenza activity.

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CHPA to fight reverse-switch of PSE products in Mississippi with legislative line

BY Michael Johnsen

JACKSON, Miss. The Consumer Healthcare Products Association on Saturday announced a legislative line for consumers to call in an effort to fight a move to reverse-switch cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine from behind-the-counter to prescription-only.

“CHPA has provided a phone number for Mississippians to contact their legislators which within the first day fielded scores of calls from around the state,” stated CHPA spokeswoman Elizabeth Funderburk. “We have heard their outrage on talk radio, and online posting to news web pages. And recent polling shows almost two-thirds of Mississippi voters oppose the legislation,” she said. “Everyone wants to fight meth, but Mississippians believe an electronic tracking procedure is better than the added cost and burden of a prescription mandate.”

The toll-free number is 1-866-346-8118, or consumers can visit www.StopMethNotMeds.org.

According to the poll, 74% of Mississippi consumers agree that an Rx-only requirement would create an “unnecessary burden” for law-abiding citizens, and approximately 61% oppose the law.

Last week, the Mississippi House passed H.B. 512, legislation that would impose an Rx-only mandate on commonly available cold and allergy medications containing PSE. Identical legislation is currently being shepherded through the Senate (S.B. 2339).

“Because Mississippi does not tax prescription drugs, this legislation would also divert $590,000 from the general fund annually, as well as increase the costs to Mississippi’s Medicaid program through increased doctor’s visits and prescriptions as a result,” Funderburk added. “This would be an expensive new mandate from the state on the budgets of Mississippi families and Mississippi taxpayers. There is a better way to fight meth, and that’s through establishing an electronic tracking program to stop the illegal sale to criminals.”

The survey, conducted from Jan. 14 to Jan. 23, involved 350 Mississippi state residents ages 18 years and over, all of whom voted in the last election. The survey was sponsored by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association.

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