HEALTH

Industry coalition reissues advisory against use of dietary supplements as swine flu remedy, cure

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK If there’s a huckster swindling supplements as the latest cure-all, turns out it’s not a supplement they’re swindling after all. If not an illicit pharmaceutical outright, it’s at the very least a mismarketed snake oil, and this band of supplement associations is helping to stamp those hucksters out.

 

That’s better news for brick-and-mortar retailers of supplement products than it is for any online retailers, because many of the supplements being marketed inappropriately are sold almost exclusively online or maybe in smaller specialty channels, but not in mass. That’s a matter of simple economics — it costs quite a bit of capital to feed a mass channel supply chain, and there aren’t any legitimate companies, supplier or retailer, that’d risk that kind of investment to sell an illegal product.

 

So the more these companies making such illegal claims as “Nature’s Swine Flu Cure,” or companies incorporating actual pharmaceuticals into products claiming to enhance performance, are outed as companies not to be trusted, and the more consumers associate those pitches as appearing only online, during late-night infomercials (not available in stores!) or through emails automatically routed to the junk mail box, the more community pharmacies become the go-to source for any supplement-related health information.

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CDC director: About 16% of Americans have been sick with H1N1 this year

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA One-in-6 Americans have been sick with the novel H1N1 virus so far this year, Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reported during a news conference Thursday.

“We estimate there have been nearly 50 million cases, mostly in younger adults and children,” he said.  

That includes approximately 200,000 hospitalizations so far this year, which correlates with the number of hospitalizations typical for the seasonal flu. However, there have been almost 10,000 deaths, including 1,100 children and 7,500 young adults, Frieden said. “That’s much higher than in a usual flu season,” he said. So as we’ve seen for months this is a flu that is much harder on younger people and fortunately has largely spared the elderly until now.”

And though the number of H1N1 cases is expected to continue to decline this week, Frieden cautioned against complacency, commenting that the typical flu season extends into May and noting that the vast majority of Americans — 5-in-6 — have not become sick with H1N1, suggesting there is still a significant number of people who could become ill.

While the number of H1N1 cases decline, the amount of H1N1 influenza vaccine available continues to increase — approximately 85 million doses have been delivered to the CDC to date.

“Many states have increased the eligibility, having met the demand in the five priority groups to the general population and that’s consistent with the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices,” Frieden said. “This is still a good window of opportunity to be vaccinated. I can certainly understand that many people might [ask], ‘Well there’s been so much disease and it’s going down so much, why get vaccinated now?’ But the fact is we don’t know what the future will hold.”

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PricewaterhouseCoopers: Personalized medicine market to grow 11% annually

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK PricewaterhouseCoopers’ report that the personalized medicine market will grow 11% per year is just another indication that the field could become the next generation of community pharmacy.

A lot of research already has gone into studying the interactions between drugs and the genetic makeup of the patients who take them. In October, pharmacy benefit manager Medco Health Solutions announced that it would undertake a study to determine whether the presence of a normally functioning version of the gene CYP2C19 in 70% to 75% of patients, which makes them “extensive metabolizers” of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s and Sanofi-Aventis’ anticlotting drug Plavix (clopidogrel), have comparable outcomes to patients taking Eli Lilly & Co.’s Effient (prasugrel). Unlike Plavix, metabolism of Effient does not depend on patients’ genetic makeup.

 

Meanwhile, CVS Caremark will work with Generation Health to expand pharmacogenomic, or PGx testing to its pharmacy benefit manager clients to predict how patients will respond to medications for cancer, cardiovascular diseases and HIV. CVS expects to introduce PGx clinical services to its PBM clients in second quarter 2010. Regional chain Kerr Drug, working with the University of North Carolina’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy, will begin targeting patients using Plavix in a PGx program of its own by using DNA testing to optimize the therapeutic effects of the drug at its new Community Healthcare Center in Chapel Hill, N.C.

 

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