HEALTH

Kerr hosts senator in push for MTM

BY DSN STAFF

RALEIGH, N.C. —Kerr Drug hosted U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan Aug. 16 for a pharmacy and health center tour that drew praise from the North Carolina Democrat and a new push for medication therapy management.

Hagan toured the patient care area of a Kerr drug store in the 90-store chain’s home market, and used the opportunity to talk with patients and pharmacists about the value of pharmacy-based clinical care. The lawmaker, a co-sponsor of the Medication Therapy Management Expanded Benefits Act of 2010, S.3543, lauded the contributions made by pharmacists in improving patient care and controlling health costs. She also promoted the expansion of MTM services to Medicare Part D recipients and worked to include an MTM provision in the new healthcare-reform bill, creating a grant program to promote MTM services.

“Pharmacy is evolving to a more patient-centered focus as patients and providers realize the value of pharmacy in improving health care,” said Kerr chairman and CEO Tony Civello. “We know that for every $1 invested in MTM, overall healthcare costs are reduced by $8 or more. Sen. Hagan understands that value.”

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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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