HEALTH

AMCC, Walgreens drive awareness around expired medicines in the home

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens on Wednesday released a survey that found 2-in-5 American households have at least one bottle of expired over-the-counter medicine in their medicine cabinets. In addition, when consumers dispose of medication, more than 60% of those surveyed said they disposed of medications in the household garbage.

The most common OTC medications that shoppers had on hand include pain relievers, cough-cold treatments and allergy relief.

Walgreens’ research is timely, especially considering the amount of awareness presently being raised around those medicine cabinets and proper medicine disposal. This Saturday, Nov. 13, the American Medicine Chest Challenge — a public health initiative to raise awareness about the dangers of prescription drug abuse — will be held in thousands of communities. And while AMCC’s primary focus is the prevention of teenage abuse of those medicines found in mom and dad’s medicine cabinet, the challenge still will prompt many of those parents to poke around, and thereby discover those expired medicines.

The initiative is asking parents to take a five-step challenge — take stock of those medicines in the home; secure the medicine chest; take medicine only as prescribed or according to the drug facts label; dispose of unused, unwanted and expired medicine; and talk to their children around the dangers of medicine. Partnering with AMCC around the initiative are the American College of Emergency Physicians, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the Partnership at DrugFree.org and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

In September, Walgreens launched the first ongoing, nationwide Safe Medication Disposal Program, a safe and environmentally responsible alternative way to dispose of unused or expired medications. For $2.99, customers can purchase a specially designed envelope available at any Walgreens pharmacy counter that allows them to place, seal and mail prescription or over-the-counter medications they no longer use for safe, eco-friendly disposal. Outside of the recent Walgreens solution, information on where to dispose of medicines can be found on AmericanMedicineChest.com.

The Walgreens survey also found that 55% of consumers suggested they knowingly would use those expired drugs, especially if the expiration date was within a few months passed. And though most parents more frequently tend to check expiration dates, more than one-third said they have given their children medication that had expired in the previous six months.

“With cough-cold and flu season now well under way, consumers should check for medications on hand, note expiration dates and replace commonly used medications as needed to make sure they’re prepared to immediately meet their family’s needs in the event of an illness,” stated Walgreens chief medical officer Cheryl Pegus. “Coming down with an illness and not having an OTC pain reliever or cough-cold medication readily available only makes the situation worse,” Pegus said. “To ensure that you have safe medications at home, you should check your medicines for expiration dates with each change of season.”

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HEALTH

Citi’s flu care card pushes employers toward lower-cost retail channels

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK Citi on Tuesday announced the launch of the Citi Flu Care card, a new corporate healthcare payment solution from Citi’s Global Transaction Services. The Citi Flu Care card is a payment service designed to help employers reduce employee healthcare spending by shifting the administration of flu shots from doctors’ offices or on-site clinics to more cost-effective pharmacy locations.

 

According to an examination in June 2010 by a benefits consulting firm, the average cost of a flu shot when factoring in the vaccination and related services rendered is estimated to be $80 or greater when dispensed at a doctor’s office. By using the Citi Flu Care card, the cost per vaccination is $30 or less.

 

 

“The Citi Flu Care card is designed to help employers keep their employees healthy by offering them an easy and convenient way to get a flu shot," stated Dan Miller, SVP pharmacy operations for Rite Aid. "It’s also a good way to get out the message that the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses."

 

Based on industry research, it is the first flu shot card payment product that does not require prepayment, and restricts use to flu vaccinations at more than 17,000 pharmacies and clinics nationwide, including CVS/pharmacy, Rite Aid, Target, MinuteClinic, The Little Clinic and any of the Kroger Family of pharmacies.

 

Until now, companies have relied on corporate on-site health providers or doctor visits for flu shot disbursement, Citi noted. With the Citi Flu Care card, employers can direct vaccinations toward lower-cost retail channels, significantly reducing the average cost per vaccination by 63%. This means substantial and immediate savings for the company and a convenient, no-cost alternative to the employee.

 

 

"For nearly 14 years, Citi has been pioneering corporate payment solutions for a wide array of payment needs, from payroll and incentives to benefits and rebates," stated Paul Simpson, global head of treasury and trade solutions, global transaction services at Citi. "Now, we’re revolutionizing how individuals get their flu shots, providing greater ease, flexibility and access. It’s incredibly exciting to think about the impact this could have on the health and productivity of individuals and our economy as a whole. We’re excited to think about the other applications this product will have in market."

 

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CDC, Brickfish launch ‘The Flu Ends With U’

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN DIEGO The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have signed with Brickfish to launch a social awareness program around the importance of getting the flu vaccine for the 2010-2011 flu season, Brickfish announced Tuesday.

 

The program, “The Flu Ends With U,” asks consumers for their help in creating public service announcements to assist in getting the word out via online and social media.

 

 

“We were thrilled to partner with the CDC to help them harness the power of social media for the greater good and to drive awareness of the flu vaccine,” stated Nichole Goodyear, CEO of Brickfish. “By utilizing the Brickfish platform, the CDC will be able to track in real time the depth and breadth of the awareness they are spreading.”

 

 

The CDC’s “The Flu Ends With U” social awareness program ends Dec. 20. For complete details, visit Brickfish.com/Lifestyles/TheFluEndsWithU.

 

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