HEALTH

NACDS announces support of new methamphetamine legislation

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON A law that would expand the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 was introduced last month by Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn. The bill would require distributors of pseudoephedrine products to sell only to self-certified retailers registered with the Drug Enforcement Agency.

It also would require the DEA to create an online database where distributors could check if retailers have certified that staff has been properly trained. The bill also would clarify that a retailer who negligently fails to file self-certifications, as required, can face civil fines.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores expressed its support of the legislation. “These provisions will help prevent the diversion of pseudoephedrine … products for illegitimate purposes, while still allowing consumers with legitimate needs to access these necessary medications,” stated NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson in a recent letter to Gordon.

“Even with the 2006 law, our country still has a huge meth problem,” stated Gordon in introducing the legislation, called the Combat Methamphetamine Enhancement Act of 2009. “In Tennessee alone, which leads the Southeast in the number of meth labs, 1,300 labs are expected to be seized by the year’s end. We need to do what we can to further reduce access to meth ingredients — this bill will do just that.”

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., is co-sponsor of the bipartisan legislation. “Over the years, the Drug Enforcement Agency has had trouble identifying noncompliant stores — with the number of stores estimated to be in the tens of thousands,” Sensenbrenner said. “This legislation will make it tougher for individuals to make meth, and therefore make it even more difficult to buy meth.”

According to the DEA Web site, 53,989 retailers had self-certified and registered their operations by Oct. 27, 2008, including 27,678 pharmacies and drug stores. The self-certification program includes a documented training program for all employees engaged in the sale of PSE products.

The Combat Methamphetamine Enhancement Act already has passed the Senate with bipartisan support after being introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., in January. The legislation presently is before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

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Peptic ulcer bacterium may alter the body’s defense system, study suggests

BY Anna Mcgrath

NEW YORK The discovery that Helicobacter pylori survives in the body by manipulating important immune system cells may lead to a new treatment strategy against the common peptic ulcer bacterium, according to a thesis from the Sahlgrenska Academy.

Helicobacter pylori is a bacterium that lives predominantly in the stomach and can lead to peptic ulcers and develop into stomach cancer. About half of the world’s population carries the bacterium, though most infected individuals never experience any symptoms. On average, around 10% get peptic ulcers and around 1% develop stomach cancer.

“Carriers were often infected as children and if not treated with antibiotics, the bacterium remains in the body for life. The immune system alone is unable to eliminate the bacterium, and now we understand better why,” said biologist Bert Kindlund, the author of the thesis from Sahlgrenska Academy.

Regulatory T-cells down-regulate the body’s defence against Helicobacter pylori and enable the bacterium to develop a chronic infection.

“If we could control the regulatory T cells, we could strengthen the immune system and help the body eliminate the bacterium. This could be a new treatment strategy against Helicobacter pylori,” Kindlund continued.

Researchers are hopeful that such information will ultimately help discovery a treatment to stomach cancer.

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Government officials to host H1N1 Flu Preparedness Summit

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON The White House on Friday announced that Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano, Education secretary Arne Duncan and Homeland Security advisor John Brennan will host an all-day H1N1 Flu Preparedness Summit with states to further prepare the nation for the possibility of a more severe outbreak of H1N1 flu in the fall.

The Summit will be held this Thursday at the Natcher Conference Center at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.

The H1N1 flu virus continues to circulate in this country and in at least 100 other countries around the world – especially in the Southern Hemisphere, where flu season is underway, the White House stated.

“Scientists and public health experts forecast that the impact of H1N1 may well worsen in the fall — when the regular flu season hits, or even earlier, when schools start to open — which is only five or six weeks away in some cases,” Sebelius said. “The goal of the Summit is to launch a national influenza campaign by bringing federal, state and local officials, emergency managers, educators and others together with the nation’s public health experts to build on and tailor states’ existing pandemic plans, share lessons learned and best practices during the spring and summer H1N1 wave, and discuss preparedness priorities.”

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