HEALTH

NARAL calls for Ohio pharmacists to broaden availability of, education about Plan B

BY Michael Johnsen

CLEVELAND NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio last week released a survey of Ohio pharmacies regarding the general availability of the emergency contraceptive Plan B to women over the age of 18, finding that less than 5 percent of those pharmacies surveyed refused to fill the request of a Plan B purchase “because someone on staff had objections to the medication,” but that as many as 30 percent of pharmacies surveyed either did not carry Plan B or were out of stock at the time of the survey.

Further, only 8 percent of respondents could correctly identify the three possible ways that Plan B works to prevent pregnancy, though it was unclear whether those respondents were all pharmacists. “[One-quarter] of pharmacists or pharmacy employees stated that [Plan B] is the same as the ‘abortion pill,’” NARAL reported.

Pharmacy investigators conducted phone surveys across 216 pharmacies and “secret shopper” surveys of 107 randomly selected pharmacies throughout Ohio between Nov. 1, 2007 and Jan. 31, 2008. The phone surveys were conducted by an individual caller, and the “secret shopper” surveys were conducted by teams of two female investigators.

Following release of the survey, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Foundation called on more Ohio pharmacies stock the medication; suggested that both pharmacists and pharmacy staff members need more education into the mechanism of action of Plan B; and recommended Ohio consider changing its Medicaid policies so that women covered by Medicaid can get coverage for Plan B as an OTC medicine considering the average retail of Plan B was $43 according to the survey.

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Senator calls for FDA ban on sale of cough-cold medicines for children under six

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., senior member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and chair of its subcommittee on Children and Families, earlier this week called on the Food and Drug Administration to ban the marketing of children’s cough-cold formulations for children under six even as industry made the announcement they would no longer market use of those medicines to children under four years of age.

“While I’m pleased to see that the drug companies are voluntarily taking some steps to ensure the safety and well being of our children, I am disappointed that the FDA has not followed the recommendations of its own advisory panel,” stated Dodd.  “I strongly urge the FDA to take swift action to ensure the safety and efficacy of these products in young children before one more child is given a medicine that may not only be ineffective but could also be harmful.”

In a letter to FDA commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach, Dodd wrote, “Nearly a year has passed since the FDA’s Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee and Pediatric Advisory Committee voted 13 to 9 against the use of over-the-counter cough and cold medications in children ages two to six. Another cold and flu season is right around the corner, yet commonly available medical products continue to be marketed and sold to the parents of young children even though they have not been shown to be effective and experts have raised serious questions about their safety.”

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Hylands offers parents relief to children’s cough-cold medication worries: homeopathic remedies

BY Michael Johnsen

LOS ANGELES Hyland’s helped position homeopathic alternatives to allopathic cough-cold medicines as a viable alternative to parents seeking symptomatic relief for their children suffering from a cold in the wake of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association’s announcement earlier this week that those allopathic medicines should not be used for children under the age of four.

“Natural cough and cold medicines for children are not simply recent industry fads, but rather time-tested medications that are highly safe and effective,” stated Jim Sears, an expert in the field of pediatric medicine and advocate of natural medicines. “By being completely free of the active ingredients of concern to the FDA, homeopathic medicines provide symptom relief for children and peace of mind for parents everywhere.”

“It all comes down to understanding what you put into your body and the bodies of your children,” added J. P. Borneman, chairman and chief executive officer of Hyland’s. “At Hyland’s we create the types of children’s medications that we feel safe giving to our own kids. Our medicines treat the cause of sickness safely and gently, without fear of side effects, and are manufactured according to FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practices.”

Hyland’s offers a complete line of gentle products to treat the cough and cold symptoms of children, including:

• Cough Syrup with 100% Natural Honey 4 Kids

• Cold ‘n Cough 4 Kids, New

• Cold Relief with Zinc 4 Kids Strips, due in stores this winter

• Sniffles ‘n Sneezes 4 Kids

• Complete Flu Care 4 Kids

• C-Plus Cold Tablets

• Cough Syrup with Honey

• Earache Drops

“If parents take anything away from this situation, they should understand that they are their child’s greatest defense against avoiding the dangers associated with the OTC medications causing concern,” Sears said. “Parents need to make sure they are educated on the benefits of natural medicines available to them and their children so they are not forced to decide between treating their child’s sickness and keeping their child safe.”

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