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Taming the diabetes dragon: Pharmacists as front-line warriors for wellness

BY Jim Frederick

Here’s a chilling statistic to ponder: Every 24 hours, more than 4,000 adults in the United States are diagnosed with diabetes, and some 200 die from its effects. That’s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which also reports that diabetes afflicts roughly 26 million Americans and could eventually develop in another 79 million U.S. residents considered to have prediabetes.

The fact that diabetes is a serious health threat — and one of the nation’s fastest-growing diseases — isn’t lost on most Americans, according to a new survey from UnitedHealth Group. The insurance giant released the survey results Nov. 1 at the start of National Diabetes Month, against a backdrop of growing alarm about the toll taken by the disease and near-universal awareness of its serious consequences.

Pollsters found that 92% of respondents know there’s a difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and 8-in-10 recognized that Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable. As many as 84% said they’re familiar with leading diabetes risk factors, including being overweight or chronic couch potatoes.

UHC’s nationwide poll points up widespread recognition among Americans of “the threat diabetes poses to the nation’s health,” according to Michael Johnsen of Drug Store News. In a report on Friday, Johnsen quoted Tom Beauregard, EVP UnitedHealth Group and head of UHC’s Center for Health Reform and Modernization, who cited “a diabetes time bomb ticking in America, due in large part to the escalating obesity rates in our country.”

Beauregard predicts that 40 million American adults will have diabetes by 2021, “at a cost of $3.5 trillion over the next decade.” That makes it one of the prime culprits behind the nation’s skyrocketing healthcare bill. It also makes it a prime focus of intervention efforts by pharmacists, and of pharmacy-based wellness programs that are popping up around the United States faster than new drug store front-end planograms.

Deneen Vojta, SVP UnitedHealth Group and chief clinical officer of the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance, asserts that “the opportunity now exists to turn awareness into actions like eating healthier, increasing physical activity, being tested for risk factors or joining prevention programs.” That’s a golden opportunity for pharmacists, who can influence patients’ behavior across all those preventive-health activities and make a real difference through the interactions they have every day with their patients.

If you’re a pharmacist, an upper-level pharmacy student, a retail clinician or a pharmacy technician, you’re probably already on the front lines of the battle to curb the diabetes epidemic. We invite you to share your experiences by clicking on the comment link below, and we salute you for the vital job you’re doing.

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Walgreens increases efforts to assist communities impacted by Hurricane Sandy

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — To help victims of Hurricane Sandy, customers shopping this week at any Walgreens or Duane Reade store in the United States will have the opportunity to make donations to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund in increments of $1, $2, $5 or $10, Walgreens announced Monday. The fundraising initiative is in addition to Walgreens’ announcement last week that it would make a $250,000 contribution to the same fund.

As the company’s recovery effort continues, Walgreens has now reopened all but 13 of the 750 stores that experienced service interruptions at the peak of the storm. 

In response to needs immediately after the storm, last week Walgreens delivered four semi-trailer truckloads of bottled water, including three to the American Red Cross and one to the City of New York. Two additional truckloads are on the way, Walgreens added. The retail pharmacy operator also donated merchandise and conducted food drives in response to local community requests.

And this week, Walgreens is diverting its Walgreens Way to Well Health Tour with National Urban League bus to New York to deliver blankets, water and other needed services to hard hit communities. On Wednesday, the bus will begin making visits to Walgreens and Duane Reade locations in Rockaway, followed by Brooklyn and Staten Island. The Walgreens Way to Well Health Tour with National Urban League provides free health resources to residents in urban and minority communities across the country with high rates of preventable disease.

Walgreens pharmacists have also provided direct assistance to New York City, Hoboken and other emergency response outposts to help patients find medicine they need. The company also is in the process of setting up four temporary pharmacies at stores that were heavily damaged by the storm and won’t re-open in the near term.

 

 

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Younger patients less likely to get flu shots

BY DSN STAFF

Focusing solely on patients that did not receive a flu shot in 2011, the recent AccentHealth data indicate a net increase of 11 percentage points in the number who will vaccinate in 2012. And while there appears to be a greater propensity to receive a flu vaccination among patients 45 and older, “the younger audience segment is still an important area of focus and opportunity of market growth,” noted AccentHealth VP market research Natalie Hill. Only half of adults younger than 45 years old reported they will receive the shot this year.

To see more Patient Views, click here.

Patient Views is a new, exclusive consumer insights feature that will be appear in every edition of DSN magazine and the daily e-newsletter DSN A.M. If you could ask 4,000 patients anything at all, what would it be? Send your questions to [email protected].

Source: AccentHealth. To view the demographic breakdown of participants, click here.

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