PHARMACY

Obesity rates on the rise, report says

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON Despite increased attention among the public in recent years, obesity rates have increased rather than decreased, according to a report released earlier this month.

According to the report by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, “F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies Are Failing in America 2009,” adult obesity rates increased in 23 states, but did not decrease in any states, while the percentage of obese and overweight children remains at 30% or more in 30 states.

“Our healthcare costs have grown along with our waistlines,” TFAH executive director Jeff Levi said in a statement. “The obesity epidemic is a big contributor to the skyrocketing healthcare costs in the United States.”

Mississippi has had the highest obesity rate in the country, 32.5%, for five years in a row and also has the highest rate of childhood obesity, 44.4%. Colorado has the lowest adult obesity rate, 18.9%, making it the only state with an obesity rate less than 20%, while Minnesota and Utah have the lowest rates of childhood obesity, 23.1%.

“Reversing the childhood obesity epidemic is a critical ingredient for delivering a healthier population and making healthcare reform work,” RWJF president and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey said. “If we can prevent the current generation of young people form developing the serious and costly chronic conditions related to obesity, we can not only improve health and quality of life, but we can also save billions of dollars and make our healthcare systems more efficient and sustainable.”

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Biogen Idec, Acorda Therapeutics to develop, commercialize MS drug

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. Two drug makers have announced plans to develop and commercialize a multiple sclerosis treatment in markets outside the United States.

Biogen Idec and Acorda Therapeutics said the agreement to market Fampridine-SR (4-aminopyridine) was a sublicensing of an existing license agreement between Acorda and a subsidiary of Elan Corp. The drug is an orally administered, sustained-release drug being developed to improve walking ability in patients with MS.

Under the terms of the agreement, Biogen Idec will commercialize Fampridine-SR and other aminopyridine products in markets outside the United States, and also will have responsibility for regulatory affairs and future clinical development of the drug. In exchange, Acorda will receive an upfront payment of $110 million and additional payments of up to $400 million based on the successful achievement of future regulatory and sales milestones.

The companies said the Food and Drug Administration is reviewing a regulatory approval application for the drug for the U.S. market.

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Study: Joint replacement patients with diabetes greatly benefit from controlled glucose

BY Alaric DeArment

ROSEMONT, Ill. The risk of complications that diabetes patients often have when undergoing total joint replacement decreases when they have their glucose levels under control, according to a recent study.

Published in the July issue of The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, the study found that diabetics with uncontrolled glucose levels are more than three times as likely as those with their levels under control to experience a stroke or death after joint replacement surgery, and are approximately twice as likely to experience post-operative bleeding and infection.

“We found that controlled glucose levels really do make a difference for the patient,” Duke University Medical Center orthopedic surgeon and study co-author Milford Marchant said. “It did not matter if the patient had Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.”

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