HEALTH

House calls for GAO review of pending diabetes supply reimbursement changes

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Community Pharmacists Association on Wednesday commended a bipartisan push for the Government Accountability Office to review the impact on patients of sharp reductions in reimbursement for diabetes test supplies provided by community pharmacies to Medicare beneficiaries. 

“We are concerned about the impact of this reimbursement reduction, and what it will mean for beneficiaries’ access to [diabetes testing supplies] and their ability to maintain their current brand of testing strips,” both Reps. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., and Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., noted in a letter to the GAO. “We ask that you begin this study immediately as we believe that it is of the utmost importance to diabetes patients in America."

Specifically, the representatives asked GAO to examine the cuts’ impact on the number of DTS suppliers; the quality of the DTS available to beneficiaries; the distance beneficiaries may need to travel in rural areas to obtain their supplies; patient adherence to their testing regimen; and the degree to which beneficiaries receive DTS via mail that they did not request or do not need.

Reimbursement for DTS products is scheduled to be reduced in April and then again July 1 when one national payment rate is adopted by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The two cuts combined represent a 72% average decrease in reimbursement for retail pharmacies.

Previous surveys of independent community pharmacists have found that 92% would be forced to stop offering DTS rather than accept below-cost reimbursement, NCPA noted.

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Nordic Naturals, Lipid Technologies partner on omega-3 blood test distribution to doctors

BY Michael Johnsen

WATSONVILLE, Calif. — Nordic Naturals and Lipid Technologies on Tuesday developed a partnership to ensure that practitioners have easy access to the Holman Omega-3 Blood Spot Test for their patients. The Holman Omega-3 Blood Spot Test delivers a fast, easy and accurate measurement of a person’s omega-3 levels, which can aid in making informed choices about diet and supplementation. 

“Through this exclusive agreement between Nordic Naturals and Lipid Technologies, licensed healthcare practitioners are now able to open a lab account with Lipid and receive complimentary testing materials,” stated Doug Bibus, director of Lipid Technologies. “Practitioners only pay when their patients decide to test and submit samples.” 

Both companies are hoping that the increased accessibility of this diagnostic tool will rapidly open the doors for new practitioners to bring omega-3 testing protocols into their practice to help their patients eliminate omega-3 deficiencies.

Nordic Naturals will warehouse and ship the test kits to practitioners, and Lipid Labs will process and deliver the test results. In addition, Nordic Naturals will be providing free educational material for licensed practitioners and patients.

“Optimal tissue concentrations of omega-3s are essential to health,” added Monique Wellise, Nordic Naturals professional division sales manager. “As a brand that specializes in omega-3 oils and a division that serves the needs of healthcare professionals, our objective is to truly partner with practitioners through programs and products, and the use of educational tools that drive patient success with omega-3s.

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ERSP advises Lunada Biomedical to discontinue weight-loss claims for supplement Amberen

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program on Monday recommended that Lunada Biomedical discontinue weight-loss and other claims made for Amberen, a dietary supplement marketed to menopausal women. ERSP found, however, the company could support claims related to hot flashes, irritability, sleeplessness and “low libido.”

ERSP further recommended the marketer discontinue the claim that the “leading cause of weight gain in women over 40 is hormonal imbalance.” Further, ERSP recommended that the marketer modify its “guarantee” claim by expressly stating that the guarantee is a “money-back” guarantee. 

During the course of ERSP’s inquiry, Lunada asserted that it had voluntarily discontinued all of the consumer testimonials and voluntarily modified the claim that “Amberen is the only product clinically proven to promote weight loss during menopause without additional exercise or restrictive dieting.”

Lunada provided ERSP with preliminary data from a recent clinical study, but did not provide ERSP with raw data that would allow ERSP to evaluate the statistical significance and reliability of the study. Given the omission of raw data, comprehensive findings and details about the testing protocol, ERSP recommended that the marketer discontinue its use of weight-loss claims.

ERSP is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus. The marketer’s advertising came to the attention of ERSP pursuant to an anonymous competitive challenge.

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