HEALTH

DSN, Skipta partner on pharm social site

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK —Social networking has achieved such ubiquity that those without accounts on Facebook or LinkedIn soon may become the new hermits. But a new social networking tool could become for pharmacists what Facebook is for an ever-expanding portion of the globe.

Drug Store News is collaborating with professional networking website developer Skipta to launch the Pharmacist Society—officially dubbed Pharmacist Society powered by Drug Store News—a social media platform that will combine networking, job searching, continuing education and other services in a regulated user environment.

“Users can benefit the most from Pharmacist Society through connecting with other pharmacists around the country,” Skipta president and CEO Ted Search said. The site will be open to pharmacists, such pharmacy professionals as academics and researchers, and pharmacy students. “This gives [students] an opportunity to use this technology that they’re used to, but in a private, closed-loop platform that involves a very targeted audience, which is the world of pharmacy.”

Among other features, pharmacies and schools will be able to create private pages open only to their own employees, while pharmacists will be able to store documents on the site and drug companies can provide members with direct product education.

“The Pharmacist Society will offer a customizable social media platform for community-based retail pharmacists and pharmacy students,” said Drug Store News publisher Wayne Bennett. “By combining the best of Skipta technology, Drug Store News continuing education content [and] existing Web traffic as our base, the Pharmacist Society will become the leading portal in which retail community pharmacists will receive, share and exchange information.”

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HEALTH

Dr. Siegal’s Cookie Diet introduces CalciOs

BY Allison Cerra

VIENNA, Va. Dr. Siegal’s Cookie Diet has expanded its offerings to include calcium-fortified cookies designed to treat occasional heartburn.

CalciOs cookies are vanilla-flavored cookies, each one providing 30% of the daily value of dietary calcium, Dr. Siegal’s Cookie Diet said. The cookies contain calcium carbonate, designed to treat heartburn relief. CalciOs also are free of artificial colors and preservatives.

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Pharmacies should get out of tobacco-selling, into smoking-cessation game

BY Antoinette Alexander

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT The news that San Francisco’s board of supervisors gave preliminary approval to ban tobacco sales at all retailers that operate pharmacies, including mass merchants and grocers, is a step in the right direction, because if drug stores are going to be banned from selling them, then all retail pharmacy outlets should be banned. However, there’s an even bigger picture to consider.

(THE NEWS: Report: San Francisco supervisors OK tobacco sales ban at pharmacies. For the full story, click here)

As many dollars as pharmacy retailers made selling cigarettes, there is much more to be gained in medication therapy management, and there is a significant opportunity for retail pharmacy to have a greater stake in the future of health care.

Cigarette smoking has been identified as the most important source of preventable disease, illness and death worldwide, according to the American Lung Association. Smoking-related diseases claim an estimated 443,000 American lives each year, including those affected indirectly by "secondhand" smoke.

Furthermore, smoking-related healthcare expenditures are a major drain on the U.S. healthcare system. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking cost the United States more than $193 billion in 2004, including $97 billion in lost productivity and $96 billion in direct healthcare expenditures, or an average of $4,260 per adult smoker.

Clearly, there’s a positive role that pharmacists can play in smoking cessation. To further support this, a recently published study on the "effect of a pharmacist-managed smoking-cessation clinic on quit rates" found that pharmacists can play a vital role in smoking cessation, especially in a group setting, as they can reach more people within the same time frame.

The study found that at three months and six months, 47.6% and 52.4% of patients reported being smoke-free, respectively. The study was conducted on patients that had participated in the pharmacist-managed Smoking Cessation Group Clinic at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Participants received structured group counseling on various topics associated with cessation.

It also should be noted that in August, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that Medicare coverage for seniors trying to quit smoking was expanded to include everyone on Medicare.

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