News Capsules

Published Online: Friday, May 15, 2009

NIH Plan Tackles Digestive Diseases
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently released its first long-range plan to reduce digestive diseases. “Opportunities and Challenges in Digestive Diseases Research: Recommendations of the National Commission on Digestive Diseases” describes the impact of diseases ranging from food-borne infections to cancer and liver failure, and maps out priorities for research over the next 10 years. Each year digestive diseases affect 70 million Americans and result in 105 million physician visits.

The report underscores the importance of cross-cutting research, encourages multidisciplinary efforts to advance understanding of causes, and improve diagnosis and treatment of digestive diseases. The high-impact goals recommended by the 16-member commission include: better understanding of basic biology of the digestive system; improve understanding of functional GI disorders and motility disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome; identify additional infection-causing microbes;improve treatments for the diverse diseases of the stomach and small intestine; and develop more efficient ways to categorize diseases of the colon and rectum.


APhA, Actress Align to Aim Awareness at Allergy Meds Behind the Counter
Alison Sweeney, Biggest Loser host and Days of Our Lives actress, has teamed up with the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) and the McNeil Consumer Healthcare Division of McNeil- PPC Inc to launch Behind the Counter Counts, a campaign aimed at informing patients with nasal congestion about relief that can be found behind the counter (BTC) of their pharmacies.

“Many people are unaware that some of the oral decongestant medicines they have relied on for years are still available, but are now located behind the pharmacy or service counter,” said Michael Negrete, PharmD, of APhA. “The good news is that it’s simple to purchase these products. All people need to do is visit the pharmacy or service counter, show identification, sign a logbook, and they’re on their way.”

With allergy season going strong, patients can turn to the new online resource launched as part of the campaign, www.BTCcenter.com. At the Web site, they will find a tool to help determine whether their congestion stems from allergies or colds, along with general information about medicines available BTC, and tips from Sweeney, a veteran in the war against nasal congestion.


Grassroots Program Promotes Value of Pharmacy
The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) has issued an NACDS Rx Impact Action Alert to drive home to members of Congress the value of pharmacy in the health care debate. NACDS Rx Impact was launched in February as a grassroots advocacy resource for NACDS members, but also seeks to engage pharmacy students, and other pharmacy advocates who will help “Take a Stand for Better Healthcare.”

NACDS Rx Impact “provides pharmacy advocates the tools and resources to reach out to their elected officials to communicate the value of pharmacy in keeping health care costs down and its impact on the health care delivery system,” said Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE, president and chief executive officer of NACDS.

NACDS will hold its first NACDS Rx Impact Day on Capitol Hill on June 16-17. Visit www.nacds.org for information.


Women Want Convenience, Rewards
It may not be as drastic a difference as Mars and Venus, but it turns out that women and men differ in their criteria for choosing a pharmacy. According to the Winter 2009 Ad-ology Media Influence on Consumer Choice survey, about 68% of women opt for a pharmacy because of its convenience/location, compared with 48% of men.

The quest for convenience leads women to trend toward filling prescriptions at their grocery store pharmacies, eliminating an extra trip, and often providing discounts through savings cards and other programs. According to the survey, women rank store loyalty programs and rewards as “very important” in their decision-making process regarding which pharmacy to choose, with more than twice the number of women than men making that designation.


Missouri Bill Would Move Pseudoephedrine to Rx-Only
A measure currently pending in the Missouri legislature would move methamphetamine precursor drugs to a Schedule III classification, requiring a prescription. Under current Missouri law, individuals can buy up to 9 g of pseudoephedrine every 30 days; patients must show photo identification, so the purchase can be logged in by the pharmacy.

Supporters say the legislation would discourage methamphetamine producers from abusing the current law by visiting multiple pharmacies to buy more than the maximum amount allowed. Opponents, including citizens signing onto a petition at www.gopetition.org, said requiring patients to get prescriptions for cold and allergy medicines would increase the burden on physicians’ offices, urgent care centers, and emergency departments and increase wait time for other patients with more complex or urgent needs.

The Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee held a hearing on SB 160 in February; its counterpart in the Missouri House (HB 496) is pending in the Rules Committee.


ND Senate Gives Thumbs Down to Pharmacy Law Repeal
North Dakota is the only state in the country that insists its pharmacies be majority-owned by a licensed pharmacist. For now, it is going to stay that way, following a 57 to 35 vote in the state senate to preserve the 46-year-old pharmacy ownership law.

The proposed legislation has been the subject of spirited debate over the past several months. North Dakotans for Affordable Healthcare (NDRX) favor repeal and said that changing the law would mean lower prices for prescription drugs, provide patients with more choice and convenience, and keep more money in the state because families would no longer have to leave the state to find better prices.

A report by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), however, concluded that repealing the law would reduce the number of pharmacies serving rural areas and cost the state millions in lost revenues. “Repealing the law would shift a substantial share of the market to chains and mail order pharmacies, causing about 70 independent pharmacies to close,” said Justin Dahlheimer, an ILSR researcher.

NDRX has pledged to continue to fight for repeal of the ownership law—possibly through a statewide initiative—and is polling residents on its Web site to gauge support for such a measure.



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