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Study: Supplementing with vitamin D and calcium, but not vitamin D alone, reduces risk of bone fracture

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICHESTER, England — For seniors older than 65, taking a daily supplement of vitamin D with calcium — but not vitamin D alone — can offer some protection against the risk of common bone fractures, according to an updated review from the Cochrane Library, as released by the Health Behavior News Service Tuesday. 

Cochrane reviewers evaluated 53 studies with 91,791 participants to determine whether supplements with vitamin D alone or vitamin D supplements with additional calcium offered the best protection against fractures. Seniors were given either vitamin D supplements, including D2 and D3; vitamin D with calcium; or a placebo.

The reviewers, led by Alison Avenell at the University of Aberdeen in Aberdeen, England, concluded that in the doses and formulations that were tested in the included trials, supplements of vitamin D alone are unlikely to lower the risk of hip fractures for older people. “We did not expect to find an effect from vitamin D alone, as this has been a consistent finding from previous reviews,” Avenell said.

Supplements of vitamin D with calcium did, however, reduce the risk of hip fractures in nine of the studies. Among low-risk seniors who live in the community, those who consumed vitamin D with calcium had one less hip fracture per 1,000 older adults per year. For seniors living in high-risk environments of nursing homes and hospitals, there were nine less hip fractures per 1,000 older adults per year.

Avenell said the review supports the recommendation that at-risk older women and men take vitamin D supplements with calcium. Noting, however, that people, particularly those with kidney stones, kidney disease, high blood calcium levels, gastrointestinal disease or who are at risk for heart disease, should seek medical device before taking supplements.

“I would only suggest calcium and vitamin D for fracture prophylaxis in very high risk populations, such as much older people in such institutions as nursing homes, who get no sunlight exposure at all. Even then, the risk of side effects may outweigh any preventive effect. I would not suggest vitamin D alone," Avenell said. 

"Most individuals in Europe and North America are deficient in both calcium and vitamin D,” said Robert Heaney of the Creighton University Osteoporosis Research Center. “Giving one or the other, by itself, will help only those who have the single deficiency, not the double deficiency.”

It therefore makes sense that giving both is more likely to produce benefit than giving one or the other or nothing at all, he added.

 

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Pilgrim’s Pride raises bid for Hillshire

BY DSN STAFF

GREELEY, Colo. — Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. on Tuesday confirmed that it submitted a revised proposal to acquire Hillshire Brands for $55 per share in a transaction valued at $7.7 billion, representing a $1.3 billion increase from the initial offer.

Pilgrim’s said it is confident with the terms of the transaction, as it would create considerable value for shareholders of both companies. Hillshire’s portfolio of brands includes such names as Jimmy Dean, Ball Park and Sara Lee.

 

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Cardinal Health launches new MTM solution

BY Michael Johnsen

DUBLIN, Ohio — Cardinal Health on Wednesday launched a new solution to make it easier and more time-efficient for retail pharmacies to help patients better understand and adhere to their medications.

“No one is better positioned than a community pharmacist to help patients improve medication adherence, reduce medication errors and improve health outcomes related to medication use,” stated Brad Tice, product leader of Cardinal Health’s new Medication Therapy Management Solution. “Our goal is to make it as easy and time-efficient as possible for pharmacies to deliver the MTM services that address these important patient needs.”

Tice said that one issue that prevents pharmacists from delivering MTM services to patients is that there are currently few opportunities for them to be reimbursed for doing so. Medicare Part D currently reimburses pharmacists for delivering MTM services, but only a very small percentage of enrollees are eligible. 

“Right now, retail pharmacies are caught in a bit of a Catch 22. They can only be reimbursed for delivering MTM services to a very small percentage of the population, and it can be a challenge to find enough eligible patients to make it truly viable,” Tice said. “On the other hand, if they want to be included in payers’ quality performance networks, retail pharmacies need to demonstrate their ability to positively impact patient care and improve Star Ratings. One of the best ways to do that is to deliver MTM services to as many eligible patients as possible.”

The goal of the company’s new MTM program is to address these challenges by positioning Cardinal Health to work seamlessly with each participating pharmacy’s patients to help ensure they are on the right medications, using them the right way and achieving the desired results. Tice said that the company’s approach is working. The more than 180 retail pharmacies that have participated in the company’s pilot MTM program have delivered nearly four times as many comprehensive medication reviews as the industry average.

Through the company’s new Medication Therapy Management Solution:

  • Licensed pharmacists from Cardinal Health, who are certified in medication therapy management, will work directly with a retail pharmacy’s eligible patients to perform a Comprehensive Medication Review;
  • Acting as an extension of the retail pharmacy’s team, Cardinal Health licensed pharmacists then share the results of that medication review with the patient’s pharmacy in the form of a Medication Action Plan, which enables the pharmacy to work with the patient and the patient’s other health care providers to implement the recommended changes;
  • The patient and the retail pharmacy receive a patient-specific Medication Action Plan that can be implemented locally. It highlights recommended changes in therapy, adherence issues that need to be addressed through clinical intervention, suggestions for medications the patient should consider taking or stop taking, and opportunities for generic substitutions; and
  • The medication review also identifies additional opportunities for retail pharmacies to meet the individualized healthcare needs of each patient – like recommended immunizations, services to improve cardiovascular health, or to help patients better manage diabetes.

“This solution is a win for patients, for pharmacists, for payers and for the broader healthcare system. It helps improve patient outcomes and reduces unnecessary healthcare costs, saves retail pharmacists valuable time, and strengthens the very important relationship between retail pharmacies and their patients,” Tice said.

 

 

 

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