HEALTH

CPhA responds to Attorney General Brown’s characterization of pharmacists as ”drug dealers”

BY Michael Johnsen

SACRAMENTO, Calif. In a press release issued Tuesday, the California Pharmacists Association took exception to an inflammatory reference made by Attorney General Jerry Brown that likened behind-the-bench pharmacists to street corner drug dealers, calling for the Attorney General’s office to issue a retraction.

“It is highly inappropriate for the Attorney General to make such a comparison when pharmacists are on the front lines of health care, protecting patients every day,” stated Lynn Rolston, CPhA CEO.  “Pharmacists have been found to have one of the highest levels of public trust. The Attorney General’s attempt to the discredit the profession by publicly disparaging pharmacists is insulting and without merit.”

Brown made the remark March 13, during a press conference regarding arrests made in the investigation of Anna Nicole Smith’s death. “Somebody died here,” Brown said, referring to Smith’s 2007 death of an overdose at the age of 39. “People think those drug dealers on the street corner are the only threat. People in white smocks in pharmacies and with their medical degrees are a growing threat.”

According to a press release issued by the Attorney General’s office last Friday, “the appropriate prescribing and dispensing practices of licensed doctors and pharmacies is under investigation.”

“CPhA is fully supportive of the AG’s goal of tackling illegal prescribing and abuse by patients through the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System,” Rolston said.

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Take aspirin regularly to prevent heart attacks, strokes, USPSTF says

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON A new recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force underscores the value of regular aspirin use in preventing heart attacks and strokes among many adults, the Partnership for Prevention announced Monday.

The USPSTF found that regular aspirin use reduces first heart attacks in men and first strokes in women. A study by Partnership for Prevention found that if 90% of people who should be taking aspirin were taking aspirin, an additional 45,000 lives would be saved each year. Currently, less than half of people who should be taking aspirin regularly are actually taking it.

“Encouraging doctors to discuss daily aspirin use with their patients is an important way to help people live longer and healthier lives,” stated Partnership interim-president Corinne Husten. “We need to make sure that the health reform debate now gathering momentum in Congress gives top priority to increasing the delivery of clinically effective and highly cost-effective preventive services such as regular aspirin use.”

Partnership for Prevention is a non-partisan, non-profit organization of business, health care and government leaders who are working to make disease prevention and health promotion a higher priority in the nation’s health policies and programs.

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Study: Energy drinks boost blood pressure, heart rate

BY Michael Johnsen

DETROIT People who have high blood pressure or heart disease should avoid consuming energy drinks, according to a Henry Ford Hospital study released Tuesday.

Researchers found that healthy adults who drank two cans per day of a popular energy drink experienced an increase in their blood pressure and heart rate.

No significant changes in EKG measurements were reported.

The increases in blood pressure and heart rate were insignificant for healthy adults, but could prove harmful to people with a heart-related condition, concluded James Kalus, senior manager of Patient Care Services at Henry Ford Hospital and lead author of the study.

“Based on our findings, we recommend that people who have hypertension or heart disease and are taking medication for them to avoid consuming energy drinks because of a potential risk to their health,” Kalus said.

Researchers believe the caffeine and taurine levels in energy drinks could be responsible for increases in blood pressure and heart rate. The brand of energy drink used in the study was not identified because most energy drinks on the market boast similar levels of caffeine and taurine, a non-essential amino acid derivative often found in meat and fish. The caffeine levels in energy drinks are equivalent to at least one to two cups of coffee, the researchers noted.

The study is slated for publication in The Annals of Pharmacotherapy.

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