Wegmans launches program to lower cost of generics
ROCHESTER, N.Y. Wegmans on Wednesday announced a new program that will lower the cost of nearly 390 select generic maintenance drugs and those used to treat acute conditions. The list is made up of the most-commonly prescribed generic prescription drugs filled at Wegmans, the retailer stated.
“We started by lowering food prices in November, and then began to look at other ways we could lower costs for customers and employees,” stated Colleen Wegman, Wegman’s president. “Free antibiotic prescriptions followed in early January,” she said. “It has confirmed what we’ve always known. If we approach everything by doing what’s right for our employees and customers, it is also good for our business.”
But more than saving money for its customers, expanding prescription savings programs in this economy prevents pharmacy share erosion.
“When a patient feels they must shop around for lower prices, we risk sacrificing the data that shows all of the prescribed drugs for that person,” stated John Carlo, Wegmans’ VP pharmacy. “It’s vital that we have a complete patient profile for every customer in order to identify drug interactions. We don’t want to give our patients a reason to use another pharmacy.”
The most-significant savings from this program will go to the people who need it most: the uninsured who pay cash for prescriptions; those who have experienced a change in health care coverage; and the unemployed or uninsured who may not be filling their prescriptions. Consumers with prescription insurance coverage will see an immediate reduction in the amount of their co-pay.
Wegmans expects this to impact approximately 3.6 million new and refilled prescriptions annually. The total estimated savings for employees, customers, insurers, self-insured employer groups, and federal and state programs, like Medicare, Medicaid or EPIC in New York State, will exceed $15 million, according to the company. “It was stunning to realize the impact this program alone will have on health care costs in the communities where we have stores,” Wegman said.
The new prices go into effect March 1. A 30-day supply of the listed drugs will now cost $4.00. A 90-day supply will cost $10. The complete list will be available on wegmans.com.
Researchers find possible targets for UTI drugs
ST. LOUIS Potential targets for new drugs to fight the bacteria that cause many urinary tract infections have been identified by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of Washington.
Researchers found that E. coli strains culled from urine samples of women with UTI produce more yersiniabactin and salmochelin, two siderophores that help bacteria scavenge iron to support their own survival. This could help lead to the development of antibiotics that target pathogenic E. coli strains without harming beneficial bacteria in the gut. The findings appear in the Feb. 20 online issue of PLoS Pathogens.
“When we treat an infection with antibiotics, it’s like dropping a bomb — nearly everything gets wiped out, regardless of whether it’s helpful or harmful,” stated lead author Jeff Henderson, a Washington University infectious disease specialist who treats patients with UTIs at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. “We’d like to find ways to target the bad bacteria and leave the good bacteria alone, and these siderophores are a great lead in that direction.”
UTIs are one of the most common infections, causing around $1.6 billion in medical expenses every year in the United States. Half of all women will experience a UTI at some point in their lives, and recurrent UTIs affect 20% to 40% of these patients. Scientists believe 90% of all UTIs are caused by the bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli).
The E. coli that cause UTIs may come from the human gut, where several strains of the bacteria reside. Scientists think some of those strains help their human hosts by aiding digestion and blocking other infectious organisms.
“To steal iron, siderophores have to be sent out from the cell, bind to the iron, and then be taken back into the cell,” Henderson said. “If we can design an antibiotic that looks like a siderophore, we might be able to trick only disease-causing bacteria into taking up the drug while leaving other bacteria alone.”
Research shows women at greater risk of stroke
SAN DIEGO It is a common public misperception that men are at greater risk of stroke and stroke death. In truth, women accounted for 61% of stroke deaths in the United States in 2004, according to American Heart Association statistics shared last week at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference.
However, there is a gender disparity in how women are treated for stroke as compared to men. Researchers at Michigan State University performed a meta-analysis of gender differences in the use of the clot-busting drug tissue plasminogen activator and found women are less likely to receive it than men, for example. The odds of women receiving the clot-busting drug tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) after an acute ischemic stroke was 30% lower than men.
Another Michigan study documented that women are more likely to report “non-traditional” stroke symptoms such as an altered mental state. Women with a stroke or transient ischemic attack were roughly 40% more likely than men to report non-traditional symptoms — especially altered mental status (disorientation, confusion or loss of consciousness), researchers said.
Researchers defined traditional stroke symptoms such as numbness or weakness on one side of the body, double vision, trouble speaking and comprehending words, loss of coordination and facial weakness. Non-traditional symptoms were defined as pain, mental status change, headache or other.
Previous research has indicated that women are more likely to report non-traditional stroke symptoms, which may delay appropriate stroke treatment.
In the study, 52% of women reported one or more non-traditional stroke/TIA symptoms, as did 44% of men. Altered mental status was reported by 23% of women, but only 15% of men.
The findings indicate the need for further study to improve awareness of non-traditional stroke symptoms in women and to understand their potential clinical consequences, including decreased tPA use in women, researchers said.