HEALTH

Drug offerings expand under Merck Helps programs

BY Alaric DeArment

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. Merck is expanding its patient assistance program, the drug maker said Wednesday.

Merck announced an expansion of the number of drugs it offers under its Merck Helps programs, including the Merck Patient Assistant program, the Merck Vaccine Patient Assistance program, the ACT program for cancer and hepatitis C drugs, and the SUPPORT program for HIV and AIDS drugs. The program provides medicines and vaccines free of charge to eligible patients, primarily the uninsured, who make up to 400% of the federal poverty level and can’t afford Merck drugs without assistance.

 

“Merck has historically recognized the critical need for people to have access to the prescription medicines and vaccines they require, even if they lose their insurance,” Merck EVP and chief medical officer Michael Rosenblatt said. “Our patient assistance programs now provide access to even more medicines for chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure, allowing us to reach more people in need.”

 

 

Merck also said that its philanthropic arm, the Merck Company Foundation, made a grant to NeedyMeds, a nonprofit group that helps people who can’t afford medicines or healthcare costs by making information about assistance programs available. NeedyMeds plans to use the grant to translate its website into Spanish.

 

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Kaz launches ‘Cold and Flu Central’ Facebook page

BY Michael Johnsen

SOUTHBOROUGH, Mass. Kaz, the maker of Vicks, Honeywell and Braun wellness devices, recently launched a new Facebook fan page named Cold and Flu Central, created to help inform families about some of the best defenses against colds and the flu.

 

The page includes doctor-approved tips, third-party expert advice and links, product giveaways, drug store availability information, discussions and polls.

 

 

Jennifer Trachtenberg, chief pediatric officer for RealAge.com, is the featured pediatrician on the site. In addition, two other experts will be providing tips to fans on how to stay healthy this winter: Jim McDevitt, an instructor at the Harvard School of Public Health and certified as an industrial hygienist by the American Board of Industrial Hygiene; and Ted Myatt, a senior scientist at Environmental Health and Engineering. Myatt also is the biological safety officer at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard Institute of Medicine in Massachusetts.

 

 

To help drive interest in the site, Kaz will be giving away one Vicks Cool Mist humidifier, Vicks digital thermometer or Braun ThermoScan ear thermometer each week.

 

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Lobbyists respond to Senate’s delay to review food safety bill

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON A coalition of lobbying groups urged the Senate on Monday to review and pass pending food safety legislation before November elections.

The Food Marketing Institute, which backed the bipartisan bill, issued a statement Monday that the organization was "disappointed" that the Senate elected not to review the Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Modernization Act before the midterm elections. The bill passed in the House of Representatives last year.

 

"The most important goal of America’s food retailers and wholesalers is to provide nutritious, safe, high-quality and affordable food," said FMI president and CEO Leslie Sarasin. "We all have a responsibility to work together to improve the safety of our food supply. We believe the focus should be on trying to prevent problems before they occur by providing the FDA the necessary resources and authority to help the agency protect our food supply."

 

 

Similarly, the Grocery Manufacturers Association said on Capitol Hill Monday that “the [FDA Food Safety Modernization] Act is too important to delay its passage any further,” noting that the bill’s passage would provide the FDA “with the resources and authorities the agency needs to help strengthen our nation’s food safety system by making prevention the focus of our food safety strategies,” said Scott Faber, GMA VP federal affairs.

 

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act will enhance public health and safety by requiring all food companies to develop a food safety plan, adopting a risk-based approach to inspection and improving the safety of imported food and food ingredients.

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