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BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York names Walgreens as its specialty pharmacy provider

BY Michael Johnsen

BUFFALO, N.Y. — BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York on Wednesday welcomed Walgreens to the health plan’s retail pharmacy network and named the retailer the plan's specialty pharmacy provider. 
 
The agreement allows BlueCross BlueShield members to fill their standard prescriptions at more than 30 Walgreens locations in the eight counties of Western New York, and at more than 8,000 locations nationwide. Along with home delivery of specialty medications, Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy staff will work closely with members and their physicians to provide ongoing, individualized support. 
 
With the addition of Walgreens, BlueCross BlueShield’s retail pharmacy network expands to 359 retail locations locally and nearly 70,000 nationwide. 
 
“We are pleased to welcome Walgreens to our already expansive retail pharmacy network,” stated Thomas Schenk, BlueCross BlueShield SVP and chief medical officer. “Walgreens meets our high standards of quality and safety and the addition of these locations offers even more convenience for our members.” 
 
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Study: Adequate sleep reduces absence from work due to sickness

BY Michael Johnsen

DARIEN, Ill. — New research suggests that sleeping seven to eight hours per night is associated with the lowest risk of absence from work due to sickness, the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project reported Wednesday. The results underscore the importance of the “Sleep Well, Be Well” campaign of the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project, a collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society.

 
Results show that the risk of an extended absence from work due to sickness rose sharply among those who reported sleeping less than six hours or more than nine hours per night. Further analysis found that the optimal sleep duration with the lowest risk of sickness absence from work was between seven and eight hours per night: seven hours, 38 minutes for women and seven hours, 46 minutes for men. Insomnia-related symptoms, early morning awakenings, feeling more tired than others, and using sleeping pills also were consistently associated with a significant increase in workdays lost due to sickness. 
 
“Optimal sleep duration should be promoted, as very long and very short sleep indicate health problems and subsequent sickness absence,” stated principal investigator Tea Lallukka, specialized researcher at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health. “Those sleeping five hours or less, or 10 hours or more, were absent from work every year for 4.6 to 8.9 days more, as compared to those with the optimal sleep length.”
 
The study results are published in the September issue of the journal Sleep.
 
“Insufficient sleep – due to inadequate or mistimed sleep – contributes to the risk for several of today’s public health epidemics, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. Getting at least seven hours of nightly sleep is a key to overall health, which translates to less sick time away from work,” commented American Academy of Sleep Medicine president Timothy Morgenthaler, a national spokesperson for the Healthy Sleep Project. The “Sleep Well, Be Well” campaign was launched earlier this year to increase awareness of the importance of sleep as one of the three pillars of a healthy lifestyle. 
 
 
 

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Kline Group: 2013 was a growth year for the over-the-counter industry

BY Michael Johnsen

 

PARSIPPANY, N.J. — Kline Group reported positive signs of 2013 growth across the over-the-counter sector in its recently published Nonprescription Drugs USA study, according to a blog posted Monday. Compared to 2012 when the market had flat sales performance, 2013 recorded healthy growth of 3% to reach $23.5 billion at the manufacturers’ level. 
 
Kline credited the strong performance to several analgesic brands, including Excedrin, Tylenol and Motrin IB, as well as several leading nutritional brands like Vitafusion, Centrum and Schiff. 
 
"Another prominent contributor to the solid performance of the U.S. OTC market in 2013 was the approval of the Oxytrol for Women by Merck," wrote Marcela Chifu, Kline Group marketing coordinator. "This notable FDA approval created a new category in OTC, the overactive bladder [and] the horizon looks favorable for increased switch activity and growth," she noted. "Increased marketing activities coming from the majority of OTC brands along with a strong cold and flu season in the first quarter of 2013, were other important factors contributing to the overall growth of this promising market."
 

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