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Clear up patient medication guidelines, independent pharmacy group urges FDA

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Community Pharmacists Association wants the government to give patients a clearer, more concise set of guidelines on how to take their medications, the effects those drugs have and the risks and benefits they carry.

The independent pharmacy organization yesterday urged the Food and Drug Administration’s Risk Communication Advisory Committee to push for a change in the current system of overlapping instructions that go to patients along with their prescriptions. In testimony before the committee, NCPA asked the agency to develop criteria for a guidance that would describe “a single, patient-friendly, written prescription information sheet to eventually replace the multiple written documents that patients can currently receive from their pharmacists with a particular prescription.

Under current practices, those documents can include  Medication Guides, Patient Package Inserts [PPIs] and Consumer Medication Information [CMI]. Too often, said NCPA’s director of public policy, Tony Lee, patients discard the CMI and never read it — sometimes even throwing it away before they leave the pharmacy.

“While we recognize that the FDA has worked hard to try and improve these medication documents, the problem needs to be addressed in a fundamentally different way that combines useful written information with the personal relationships between the pharmacists and patients,” Lee told the FDA advisory panel.

“It is time for a comprehensive solution to this written prescription information issue,” added John Coster, NCPA’s senior VP of government affairs. “Any FDA effort to make CMI more useful for the patient should be accompanied by a broader assessment of the usefulness and purpose of the other information leaflets that pharmacist may be required to provide. We look forward to working with the agency and patient groups to meet this goal.”

Last summer, NCPA joined other pharmacy provider groups to file a “One Document” citizens’ petition with the FDA. The Risk Advisory Committee was convened specifically to address how to make CMI leaflets more useful for the patient, the group noted.

“These leaflets are voluntarily provided by the pharmacist, but the information contained in these leaflets often duplicates information in other written leaflets,” NCPA stated.

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Industry steps up efforts to promote heart disease awareness

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK In recognition of American Heart Month in February, retailers and manufacturers once again have stepped forward to help raise awareness that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women.

This year, the American Heart Association continued its Go Red For Women awareness campaign, a movement that aims to challenge women to know their risk for heart disease and to take action to reduce their personal risk.

Meanwhile, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute kicked off its awareness campaign, dubbed The Heart Truth, to also drive awareness and education.  

Both programs utilize the Red Dress, a symbol that NHLBI introduced in 2002 and has since become one of the most recognizable health symbols in the United States.  

According to a new survey conducted in January, the NHLBI states that 65% of women are aware that heart disease is their No. 1 killer, a slight increase from 2008. However, even though awareness is on the rise, many women do not take the message seriously or personally. One-third of women still underestimate their own personal risk of getting heart disease, and1-out-of-4 women still die from heart disease.

“Understanding your personal risk for heart disease really matters. Having just one risk factor for heart disease ‹ like high blood pressure or being overweight ‹ doubles your chance of developing heart disease,” stated Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D., director of NHLBI. “And the alarming fact is that more than 80% of midlife women have one or more of the risk factors.”

 To kick off Heart Month, Feb. 6 was “National Wear Red Day,” a national observance that encourages Americans to wear red to raise awareness. On that day, the AHA partnered with actress Andie MacDowell to help kick off a nationwide search for women to share their compelling stories at the second annual casting call at New York City’s Grand Central Terminal. Women can also submit their stories online at www.GoRedForWomen.org <http://www.GoRedForWomen.org> . On Feb. 13, the NHLBI’s The Heart Truth campaign held its sixth annual Red Dress Collection Fashion Show under the tents in New York’s Bryant Park. 

For 2009, several retailers and brands are once again supporting the movement through a series of special products and promotions. Some of the efforts include, but are not limited to: 

  • In February, CVS/pharmacy is presenting the Heart Beat Event to generate awareness on heart health and to provide solutions on how to live a heart-healthy lifestyle. As part of this 2009 campaign, CVS/pharmacy is distributing more than two million Heart Health Resource books to shoppers in more than 6,300 CVS stores. CVS/pharmacy will also offer information in circulars and advertisements, as well as on its Web site to help remind visitors that they can take action to prevent and control the risks of heart disease. 
  • During the month of February, Rite Aid is offering customers the opportunity to purchase a paper red dress with 100% of the proceeds to benefit Go Red for Women. 
  • Procter & Gamble?s Clairol Professional is donating 20 cents for every participating product sold through July 2008 to June 2009, for a total donation of $140,000. 
  • Supervalu, whose banners include Jewel-Osco, Acme and Albertsons, is a national support of the AHA?s Go Red for Women movement. 
  • General Mills’ Cheerios cereal brand has partnered with The Heart Truth, to raise awareness and provide education about the risk of heart disease in women. Cheerios created unique programs to address heart health disease awareness and, in January, unveiled new packaging that highlights the Red Dress symbol on three brands of Cheerios, including the original Yellow Box, Honey Nut, and Multi Grain.
  • Henkel’s Dial soap brand has partnered with The Heart Truth. In support of The Heart Truth and to raise awareness, Dial is launching a new red body wash with cranberry extracts and antioxidant pearls. Information about the campaign and heart health is also posted on the Dial Web site.

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CVS/pharmacy launches medication management program

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. CVS/pharmacy and the National Council on Aging have teamed up to launch a medication management program for seniors who are taking multiple medications and are perhaps at risk for drug interactions.

The Pack Your Bag community outreach program is administered at participating senior centers nationwide and encourages seniors to pack a bag with prescription medications, OTC medications and dietary supplements including vitamins for a review in a one-on-one consultation with a local CVS pharmacist. The program also includes a presentation by the pharmacist on improving health through medication compliance.

The 2009 program kicks off Thursday with eight Pack Your Bag events taking place simultaneously at Horizon Bay Retirement Communities throughout Rhode Island.  

In more than 4,000 Pack Your Bag consultations since the program?s inception in 2008, CVS pharmacists have found:

  • 7% of seniors were taking expired medications
  • 14% were not taking medications as prescribed
  • 10% were at risk for potential drug interactions
  • 15% had the opportunity to switch to money-saving generics.

The program is available nationwide at senior centers located within five miles of a CVS store. For more information, patients can call 800-SHOP-CVS or visit www.CVS.com.

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