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Back pain intensity increases with weight, study finds

BY Michael Johnsen

PHILADELPHIA — Overweight people with lower back pain is more intense than people of normal weight with back pain, according to a recent study published in the Sept. 15 issue of Spine.

The study sets up another comorbidity associated with being overweight.

The results showed that heavier people had higher levels of back pain intensity. For each five-unit increase in body mass index — equivalent to the difference between being classified as overweight or obese — the odds of high-intensity back pain increased by 35%. For back pain disability, the association was even stronger: 66% per five-unit increase in BMI.

However, the increase in back pain at higher BMIs was specifically related to increased fat mass. For each 11 pounds increase in body fat mass, the odds of high-intensity back pain increased by 19%. For increased fat mass in the lower limbs, the increase was 51%. In contrast, lean body mass was unrelated to back pain. Thus, the increase in back pain intensity among people with higher BMIs was wholly related to their higher body fat content — not just the fact that they were heavier. People with higher body fat also had increased disability from back pain.



The study included 135 participants, ranging from normal weight to obese. All completed a standard questionnaire to measure low back pain intensity and related disability. They also underwent a test called dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry for detailed assessment of body composition, including measurement of fat and lean body mass.

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Bottom Dollar Food customers contribute to hurricane relief efforts

BY Allison Cerra

SALISBURY, N.C. — Bottom Dollar Food invited customers to contribute to its Hurricane Irene disaster relief campaign.

The campaign, which ended Tuesday, supported efforts of the American Red Cross to raise funds that would serve those impacted areas by the hurricane. Bottom Dollar Food accepted register donations at stores in Virginia and Washington, D.C., and surrounding areas, as well as stores in the greater Philadelphia region. Bottom Dollar Food donated $4,000 to the American Red Cross.

In related news, Bottom Dollar Food provided ready-to-eat food to the Food Bank of South Jersey, a member of the Feeding America Network, in support of the food bank’s disaster-relief efforts. The company also provided support to associates affected by Hurricane Irene.

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FTC requests additional information on ESI-Medco merger

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — The proposed merger between pharmacy benefit managers Express Scripts and Medco Health Solutions hit a speed bump Friday as the Federal Trade Commission requested additional information, indicating that the deal has raised antitrust concerns among regulators.

According to the filing, the waiting period for the merger legally required under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act was scheduled to expire Friday, but the FTC’s request, officially called a "second request," extends the waiting period by 30 days after ESI and Medco have fulfilled it.

Both companies still expect the $29.1 billion deal, announced in July, to go through in the first half of 2012.

"That was an expected part of the review process," an ESI spokesman told Drug Store News. "We are looking forward to working with the FTC, as we have been, and even though the timeline for the antitrust review is not fixed, we’re confident of a positive review."

The FTC’s move drew applause from pharmacy groups that had opposed the merger.

"This is an important step in the careful consideration of a proposed merger that would have anticompetitive effects on patients, consumers, the market and the entire healthcare delivery system," a joint statement by National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and CEO Steven Anderson and National Community Pharmacists Association EVP and CEO Douglas Hoey read. "As we indicated to the FTC in our formal letter, NACDS and NCPA are concerned that the merger would result in a consolidated PBM with excessive market power, ultimately to the detriment of consumers."

The Independent Specialty Pharmacy Coalition echoed the the NACDS’s and NCPA’s sentiments.

"The ISPC commends the commission on issuing a second request in the review of a merger that would combine two of the three largest pharmacy benefit managers and the two largest specialty pharmacy companies," ISPC executive director Russell Gay said. "We are glad to see the FTC will be taking a detailed look at how further consolidation of the PBM and specialty markets may negate efforts to contain healthcare costs."

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