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Premama launches new prenatal fiber and probiotic soft chew

BY Michael Johnsen
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Premama recently announced the launch of Premama Digestive Aid, a new prenatal fiber and probiotic soft chew. 
 
“Premama is committed to supporting women throughout all aspects of their maternity journey. We have developed Premama Digestive Aid to give women a safe, effective, convenient, and palatable dietary supplement during pregnancy,” stated Jamie Schapiro, chief marketing officer, Premama.
 
Formulated to help maintain digestive balance and boost the immune system naturally, Premama Digestive Aid delivers a daily probiotic solution in a vanilla caramel-flavored chew. Each chew contains 2g of dietary fiber and 1 billion+ CFUs of probiotics. The vegetarian, naturally flavored chews can be eaten up to four times daily and are available in packs of 28.
 
Premama will make Premama Digestive Aid available for pre-orders during Expo West 2016, with its retail launch rolling out this spring. 
 
 
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Study: An aspirin a day could keep cancer away

BY Michael Johnsen
BOSTON – An analysis of data from two major, long-term epidemiologic studies published last week found that the regular use of aspirin significantly reduces the overall risk of cancer, a reduction that primarily reflects a lower risk of colorectal cancer and other tumors of the gastrointestinal tract. 
 
The findings, published online in JAMA Oncology, suggest that the use of aspirin may complement, but not replace, the preventive benefits of colonoscopy and other methods of cancer screening.
 
"We now can recommend that many individuals consider taking aspirin to reduce their risk of colorectal cancer – particularly those with other reasons for regular use, such as heart disease prevention – but we are not at a point where we can make a general recommendation for overall cancer prevention," stated Andrew Chan, chief of the Clinical and Translational Epidemiology Unit in the Massachusetts General Hospital Division of Gastroenterology, the senior and corresponding author of the report. "Our findings imply that aspirin use would be expected to prevent a significant number of colorectal cancers above and beyond those that would be prevented by screening and may have even greater benefit in settings in which the resources to devote to cancer screening are lacking."
 
A large number of studies have supported the ability of regular aspirin use to prevent colorectal cancer, but aspirin's effects on overall cancer risk has not been clear. To investigate that question, the research team analyzed 32 years worth of data from almost 136,000 participants in the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. They found that participants who reported regular aspirin use – defined as taking either a standard or a low-dose aspirin tablet at least twice a week – had a 3% absolute lower risk of any type of cancer than did those not reporting regular aspirin use. Regular aspirin use reduced the risk of colorectal cancer by 19% and the risk of any gastrointestinal cancer by 15%. 
 
No reduction was seen in the risk of breast, prostate or lung cancer. 
 
Aspirin's protective benefit appeared after five years of continuous use at dosages ranging from 0.5 to 1.5 standard tablets a week or one low-dose tablet a day. The researchers estimate that regular aspirin use could prevent close to 30,000 gastrointestinal tract tumors in the U.S. each year and could prevent an additional 7,500 colorectal tumors among U.S. adults over 50 who have endoscopic screening and 9,800 among the almost 30 million who are not screened. 
 
The benefit related to other gastrointestinal tumors appeared after six years and at the same dosage level – equivalent to a daily low-dose tablet – used to prevent cardiovascular disease.
 
"At this point, it would be very reasonable for individuals to discuss with their physicians the advisability of taking aspirin to prevent gastrointestinal cancer, particularly if they have risk factors such as a family history," Chan said. "But this should be done with the caveat that patients be well informed about the potential side effects of regular aspirin treatment and continue their regular screening tests. Furthermore, aspirin should not be viewed as a substitute for colonoscopy or other cancer screening tests."
 
 
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Elevated professional status drives patient access

BY Jim Frederick

Converging trends in health care, including a rapidly aging baby boomer population, a steady rise in chronic disease and massive policy changes such as those associated with the Affordable Care Act, are creating increased demands for patient care just as the shortage of primary care physicians continues to become ever more pronounced — in five years it is expected that the United States will have about 100,000 fewer primary care physicians than needed — and threatening to further compromise an already overtaxed healthcare system.

(Click here to view the full report.)

The Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act — now pending in Congress as H.R. 592 and S. 314 — would address that by leveraging the convenience and the clinical expertise of the community pharmacist, helping to expand access to care for millions of underserved Americans, lowering the cost of delivery of critically important frontline health services and fostering new models for collaborative care.

The legislation “would designate pharmacists as healthcare providers in Medicare Part B — empowering them to deliver services to Medicare patients in underserved communities, according to pharmacists’ scope of practice laws in each state,” explained Steve Anderson, president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. He called the growing support for the legislation from Congress and within the U.S. population “just one example of the growing recognition of pharmacy’s value, and the ability of highly trusted, highly educated and highly accessible pharmacists to improve and save lives.”

The “lack of pharmacist recognition as a provider by third-party payers, including Medicare, has limited the number and types of services pharmacists can provide, even though they are fully qualified to do so,” Anderson said. “The adoption of policies and legislation to increase access to much-needed services for underserved Americans, such as … the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act, would allow Medicare Part B to utilize pharmacists to their full capability by providing those underserved beneficiaries with services not currently reaching them.”

Among the nation’s pharmacy leaders, the bill is perhaps better known simply as provider status legislation. Why? It would confer professional status as healthcare providers on pharmacists who provide health services to seniors in need, putting them on roughly equal footing with other professional caregivers, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants, as members of the modern, coordinated healthcare team.

“H.R. 592 and S. 314 would build on existing law that allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants to be reimbursed by Medicare by covering services delivered by pharmacists,” noted the Patient Access to Pharmacists’ Care Coalition, an advocacy group whose members include NACDS, the National Community Pharmacists Association, the National Consumers League, the National Rural Health Association and many other groups.

“Similar to the law for NPs and PAs,” added the advocacy group in a report, “the Pharmacy and Medically Underserved Areas Enhancement Act would limit rates to 80% or 85% of what would be paid to physicians, helping limit Medicare spending while improving access.”

Unleashing innovation in cost-effective care
Efforts to expand the pharmacist’s scope of practice have steadily gained traction in Congress. Prior to the end of the last session, H.R. 592 had drawn 264 Democratic and Republican co-sponsors in the House — more than 60% of the total membership — and 41 co-sponsors in the Senate.

Public support for elevated status for pharmacists also is solid. The most recent national opinion research poll from NACDS shows that more than 8-in-10 consumers are in favor of the bill.

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