HEALTH

GNC raises $3.1 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

BY Michael Johnsen

PITTSBURGH — GNC on Friday announced that its employees and customers donated a total of $3.1 million over the past few months to support the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Thanks and Giving campaign. The campaign, now in its ninth year, builds awareness of and raises funds for the research and treatment done at St. Jude to help children fighting cancer. 

"We are extremely grateful for the generosity of our customers and employees in supporting this wonderful and exciting annual fundraising campaign," stated Tom Dowd, GNC EVP, chief merchandising officer and general manager. "Assisting with the St. Jude Thanks and Giving campaign is an honor, and we are proud of the health and wellness community’s commitment to enriching the lives of children and their families as they seek specialized pediatric healthcare at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital."


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Safeway, UCSF School of Pharmacy partner on smoking-cessation program

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Safeway pharmacists will use a program developed by the University of California San Francisco School of Pharmacy to help people quit smoking, under a partnership with the supermarket operator announced by the university.

Safeway pharmacists will receive training in smoking-cessation counseling techniques developed by the UCSF pharmacy faculty, while stores will locate OTC nicotine-replacement therapies near pharmacy areas, giving customers convenient access to the pharmacist.

"Pharmacists are often the most accessible healthcare provider for patients within their own communities, but we haven’t maximized their expertise in that setting," UCSF School of Pharmacy interim dean B. Joseph Guglielmo said. "This project offers Safeway customers the full patient-care skill set of pharmacists with a goal of helping customers prevent and manage their chronic medical conditions."

Source: CDC

Safeway SVP pharmacy, health and wellness Darren Singer, said the partnership would mark the first time a smoking cessation intervention had been applied systematically across a network of pharmacies.

"We are proud to partner with the UCSF School of Pharmacy on this effort to help our customers quit smoking and live healthier lives," Singer said. "Our pharmacists are, at all times, ready to help customers reach their health and wellness goals."

At first, the project will focus on 20 stores in northern and southern California and will expand throughout 2013 to hundreds of Safeway pharmacies throughout the country.

The program uses a streamlined version of the pharmacy school’s Rx for Change tobacco-cessation program, which it created for training healthcare providers nationwide. Under the program’s "Ask, Advise, Refer" model, pharmacists ask patients whether they smoke as a standard health screening question while filling prescriptions, advising smokers to quit, offering them information on medication options available and referring them to the California Smokers’ Helpline, a free telephone counseling system at the University of California San Diego.

"We know there are several medications that have significant interactions with tobacco smoke, so this is a question every pharmacist should be asking already," UCSF Department of Clinical Pharmacy interim chairwoman Lisa Kroon said. Kroon developed the curriculum with two other professors, and the project will include a three-month study by researchers from the school, starting early this year, to assess the effect of having pharmacists who are specially trained in smoking cessation.


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NCHS: OTC switch approval of Plan B broadened access to emergency contraception

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA — Between 2006 and 2010, 1-in-9 sexually experienced women between the ages of 15 and 44 years had used emergency contraception at least once, the National Center for Health Statistics noted in a report released Wednesday. Use of emergency contraception, such as Plan B One-Step, was the most common among women between the ages of 20 and 24 years, those who never married, Hispanic or non-Hispanic white women, and those who attended college. 

That compares with 2-in-5 women who used emergency contraception in 2002 and fewer than 1-in-10 women in 1995. 

Overall, the study shows that switching emergency contraception products over-the-counter for women older than 17 years has increased access to the treatment and presumably prevented many unwanted pregnancies from happening. 

Half of the women who used emergency contraception reported having used it because of fear of failure of another form of contraception. Most women who had used emergency contraception had done so once or twice, the report noted — 59% had used it once, 24% had used it twice and 17% had used it three or more times.

"When looking at age differences, it should be kept in mind that not all women had access to emergency contraception during the earlier portion of their reproductive years," study authors observed in their conclusion. "It was expected that older women would have used emergency contraception less frequently than younger women for reasons of both supply and demand — emergency contraception was not FDA approved in their early reproductive years, and the use of sterilization as a contraceptive method increases with age, consequently decreasing the potential demand for emergency contraception," the authors wrote. "Additionally, differences across marital status and other groups presented here could be confounded by age; for instance, married women are on average older than never-married women."

 


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