HEALTH

Identigene introduces STD test kit

BY Michael Johnsen

SALT LAKE CITY Identigene on Thursday officially unveiled its Identigene STD test kit, which currently is available over the counter at Rite Aid.

Purchasers of the Identigene STD test kit can receive a highly accurate test result for chlamydia and gonorrhea, two of the more popular sexually transmitted diseases, within two to three business days of receipt of a urine specimen by the Identigene laboratory.

“As costs and wait times for health care continue to rise, people are increasingly looking to home diagnostics,” stated Steve Smith, executive director of Identigene. “The Identigene STD test kit is a confidential, convenient and cost-effective way for people to protect their privacy and help ensure their own sexual health, as well as that of their partners.”

Often, infected people don’t know they have contracted an STD that can harm them and others. “Symptoms may not be noticeable until the disease progresses and potentially causes more serious health concerns,” said Identigene’s medical director, Michael Rhode. “Early and regular STD testing can greatly reduce these risks and enable earlier, more effective treatment.”

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends yearly testing for people who are sexually active, especially for pregnant women. Individuals who test positive using the Identigene STD test kit should consult with their doctor or may ask an Identigene consultant to help them find local medical treatment.

 

 

The CDC estimated that more than 1 million Americans ages 14 years to 39 years are infected with an STD each year. Untreated complications from chlamydia and gonorrhea can be severe and may include infertility or sterility. Women may get pelvic inflammatory disease and are five times more likely to contract HIV/AIDS if infected by chlamydia.

 

 

The Identigene STD kit retails for a suggested price of $19.99; the laboratory processing fee is $99.

 

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H.D. Smith subsidiary launches new website

BY Allison Cerra

WOOD DALE, Ill. Smith Medical Partners, a business focused on specialty pharmaceutical distribution and solutions, announced the launch of its new company website.

The H.D. Smith subsidiary said its new site, Smpspecialty.com, features a user-friendly platform that includes audience-specific landing pages, including relevant products and FAQs tailored for unique segments of the healthcare industry.

Additionally, the site also will feature Smith Medical Partners news, reimbursement announcements, recall postings and industry developments, as well as e-newsletters that are tailored for multiple specialty practices, placing Smith Medical Partners customers among the first to receive details on new product launches, special purchasing opportunities and program information.

“Our online visitors will now experience a more comprehensive and vibrant view of Smith Medical Partners,” said Smith Medical Partners VP David DuRoss. “We have taken a strategic approach to providing rich content in an accessible and streamlined layout.”

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Foundation for HealthSmart Consumers: New OTC reimbursement rule will be costly

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON A panel of healthcare thought leaders has concluded that a recent IRS rule change requiring a written prescription so that over-the-counter medicines can be eligible for reimbursement under flexible spending accounts will demand retail system challenges that are operationally impossible to overcome in the time frame required.

“We see this as a threat to consumer access and choice at a time when we need our citizens to be more engaged in managing their health and the cost of care,” stated Jon Comola, executive director of the Foundation for HealthSmart Consumers. Because of the new rule change, Comola said, “some consumers are likely to seek prescriptions for OTCs or alternative [prescription] drugs in order to comply with the new tax requirement.”

According to Foundation researchers, the resulting costs could reach $2.5 billion annually if office visits and lab tests are incurred by even 10% of the insured population; potential new pharmacy costs could reach $3 billion annually.

“We are concerned about the negative impact on people who are using OTCs to address health issues like smoking cessation, weight control, arthritis and allergies because of the increased tax on higher cost products,” said Jim Parker, fellow for The Foundation. “This may result in increased physician visits and potentially the prescribing of more expensive prescription drugs.”

The number of consumers who take advantage of health spending accounts is not insignificant, the Foundation added. “More than 50 million of the 195 million commercially insured consumers have healthcare accounts and will be directly affected by this new rule,” noted Roy Ramthun, president HSA Consulting.

As of Jan. 1, consumers will no longer be able to pay for most OTC medicines with funds from their flexible spending accounts and other health accounts (including HSAs and HRAs) unless the OTCs are “prescribed.” Retailers already are taking steps to warn shoppers of the new restrictions on purchases of OTC medicines using funds from their healthcare accounts.

This rule change, enacted as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is intended to help fund increases in healthcare spending in other parts of the bill.

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