HEALTH

Kudzu root may become dietary supplement

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON Kudzu, the nuisance vine that has overgrown almost 10 million acres in the southeastern United States, may sprout into a dietary supplement, according to an article in the current issue of Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Scientists in Alabama and Iowa are reporting the first evidence that root extracts from kudzu show promise as a dietary supplement for a high-risk condition — the metabolic syndrome — that affects almost 50 million people in the United States.

Michael Wyss and colleagues note in the new study that people with metabolic syndrome have obesity, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and problems with their body’s ability to use insulin. Those disorders mean a high risk for heart attacks, strokes, and other diseases. Scientists have been seeking natural substances that can treat the metabolic syndrome. The new study evaluated kudzu root extracts, which contain healthful substances called isoflavones.

The study found that a kudzu root extract had beneficial effects lab rats used as a model for research on the metabolic syndrome. After two months of taking the extract, the rats had lower cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and insulin levels that a control group not given the extract. Kudzu root “may provide a dietary supplement that significantly decreases the risk and severity of stroke and cardiovascular disease in at-risk individuals,” the article noted.

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Walgreens announces Pharmacy Management Excellence program with Caterpillar

BY DSN STAFF

The news that Walgreens has reached an agreement with Caterpillar to help the company curb healthcare costs for its 70,000 employees, retirees and eligible dependents is one more indicator that the private sector cannot wait for healthcare reform and that pharmacy retailers are taking a greater role on the front lines of health care.

As explained in the article, Walgreens, through its Pharmacy Management Excellence program, will make transparent the prescription drug-pricing model, in turn, eliminating unnecessary and hidden costs for Caterpillar.

Walgreens and Caterpillar are also exploring, through Walgreens Complete Care and Well-Being program, other ways to develop an integrated health care and pharmacy program. The Complete Care and Well-Being program combines worksite health centers, in-store clinics and pharmacies with the discount drug offering

By leveraging its resources, Walgreens is positioning itself along the frontlines of the healthcare and sending the message that retail pharmacy is helping to drive healthcare reform and is a critical player in improving employees’ health and well-being.

As previously mentioned by Drug Store News, the more the private sector leads the way on this, the more likely that reform will work for them, as well as the rest of America.

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MedImmune launches ‘Don’t Play with the Flu’ campaign

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK MedImmune, Women’s Professional Soccer and the American Youth Soccer Organization last week launched the “Don’t Play with the Flu” campaign, which aims to highlight the importance of getting a seasonal influenza vaccination every year. The program kicked off with soccer legends Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain.

“‘Don’t Play with the Flu’ reflects MedImmune’s commitment to supporting healthy families,” stated Tony Zook, president of MedImmune. “We’re very pleased to partner with Women’s Professional Soccer, the American Youth Soccer Organization, and of course Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain, to bring this important preventive health message to families across the country this flu season.”

“We know a vaccine is the best way to help protect ourselves from the flu, so my family and I get a seasonal flu vaccine as soon as we can every year,” stated Hamm. “That way we can concentrate on all the other things we regularly do to stay healthy on and off the field and in our busy lives.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that the best way families can help prevent the seasonal flu is by getting a flu vaccine every year for those individuals who are eligible to receive it. The CDC recommends that children 6 months through 18 years of age be vaccinated annually against seasonal flu and that eligible individuals be immunized as soon as the seasonal vaccine becomes available, which can be as early as August and September.

“Along with all the things that parents know are important for helping keep their kids healthy — like washing hands and getting enough sleep — influenza vaccination should be at the top of the list. It’s a smart defense to help protect our kids and our families from seasonal flu,” stated Anat Feingold, a pediatric infectious disease expert. “And because kids can spread the flu, including at school, it’s important that parents ask about an annual flu vaccine as soon as it is available. Back-to-school and sports physicals can be the perfect opportunity.”

The campaign offers families information, resources, and updates through DontPlaywiththeFlu.com, including interactive content, a quiz about seasonal flu and educational information. The campaign also aims to educate families about the importance of seasonal flu vaccination for eligible individuals through informational brochures at WPS stadiums, media events and soccer clinics in WPS franchise cities, and directly to AYSO members and families around the country.

As a part of the campaign, MedImmune has become a sponsor of WPS, the world’s premier women’s professional soccer league, and AYSO, a nationwide nonprofit youth soccer organization that develops and delivers quality youth soccer programs to approximately 600,000 players. MedImmune was the presenting sponsor of the 2009 WPS Championship in Los Angeles Aug. 22, and will also present the “Defender of the Year” award at the WPS All-Star Game in St. Louis on Aug. 30.

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