HEALTH

Drug-resistant bacterial infections reported in 20 states, worldwide

BY Michael Johnsen

ARLINGTON, Va. Drug-resistant bacterial infections recently have been reported in more than 20 states across the United States, and now are responsible for an outbreak in Tel Aviv, Israel, according to a report in USA Today on Thursday, citing information from the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.

The bacterial infections prove fatal in as many as 60% of all cases.

The outbreak in Tel Aviv has been traced to northern New Jersey, Neil Fishman, director of SHEA, told the national daily. The bacteria in question are equipped with a gene that enables them to produce an enzyme that disables antibiotics. The enzyme is called Klebsiella pneumoniae carbapenamase, or KPC. It disables carbapenem antibiotics, or last-ditch treatments for infections that don’t respond to other drugs.

The infections are taking place primarily in hospital settings and have not yet spread to the general community.

The problem may be of greater concern than methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, given the number of alternative treatments that are available. The only drug that appears to make any headway against carbapenem-resistant germs is polymyxin, a medicine that has fallen out of favor with doctors given the toxicity to the kidneys, Fishman said.

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MDA offers vouchers for free flu shots at Walgreens

BY Allison Cerra

SALT LAKE CITY Walgreens is teaming up with the Muscular Dystrophy Association to administer flu shots to those who need them most, according to published reports.

The MDA is handing out vouchers for free flu shots at Walgreens to those affected by muscular dystrophy and related diseases, according to ABC4News in Salt Lake City.

Voucher requests can be submitted here.

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CBO: Generics saved $33 billion for Medicare Part D in 2007

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON Generic drugs saved Medicare Part D beneficiaries and the program as a whole $33 billion in 2007, according to a new report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The CBO expected another $14 billion in annual savings to accrue as many new generics enter the market through 2012.

 

The main lobby for pharmacy benefit managers said the report also showed the advantages of pharmacy benefit managers.

 

“Tools pioneered by pharmacy benefit managers — including encouraging the use of generic medications — have lowered costs and expanded access to prescription drugs for seniors in Medicare Part D,” Pharmaceutical Care Management Association president and CEO Mark Merritt said.

 

The generic drug industry lobby hailed the report as well. “This new CBO study is just one of a continued body of evidence proving that generics are a key cost-saving component of our healthcare system,” a statement by the Generic Pharmaceutical Association read.

 

 

According to the market research firm IMS Health, generic drugs accounted for nearly 75% of prescriptions dispensed in the United States, but for just more than 19% of dollars spent.

 

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