HEALTH

RelayHealth collaborating with CDC to provide H1N1 information

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA RelayHealth, a provider of healthcare connectivity services, is helping healthcare providers cope with the recent outbreak of influenza A (H1N1), and aiding the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with monitoring of influenza antiviral prescribing activity nationwide via an authorized prescription data feed, the company announced Monday.

“Our hope is that the H1N1 threat continues to moderate,” stated Jim Bodenbender, RelayHealth’s SVP and general manager. “But whatever the threat level, our secure online interactive tools are available to assist physicians enrolled on the RelayHealth network to keep their patients informed of the latest credible health information at any time.” 

Already, physicians are using RelayHealth’s HIPAA-compliant interactive service to broadcast messages securely over the Internet to their patients about the symptoms of H1N1 influenza and what to do if those patients think they have the disease, RelayHealth reported. RelayHealth has also made available H1N1 flu educational content on its network, which doctors can transmit to their patients

And RelayHealth’s Pharmacy Solutions Group is contributing to the national effort to track and limit the spread of the H1N1 flu by providing the CDC with a HIPAA-compliant data feed of antiviral prescriptions filled by a cross-sectional sample from more than 35,000 major chains, regional chains and independent pharmacies throughout the U.S. that have allowed their information to be shared.

RelayHealth provides the CDC with this authorized data feed every four hours, the company stated. On average, RelayHealth sends 400,000 to 500,000 prescription records daily to the CDC.

According to RelayHealth, the agency uses this data to monitor influenza antiviral prescribing activity across the country and shares the data with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“Our ability to swiftly assemble the data on antiviral prescriptions for the CDC is playing a role in the nation’s emergency preparedness effort,” stated Jeff Felton, president of RelayHealth’s Pharmacy Solutions Group.

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Herbal supplement industry sees sales increase for 2008

BY Michael Johnsen

AUSTIN, Texas Herbal dietary supplement sales in the United States increased slightly in 2008, reaching a total estimated figure of $4.8 billion, according to a recent report published in the quarterly journal HerbalGram, the American Botanical Council announced Friday.

“Many people believe that herb sales may be somewhat recession-proof,” stated Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of ABC, editor of HerbalGram, and one of the authors of the herb market report. “It is highly likely — and the sales data support this — that many consumers, particularly those without health insurance to cover costs of conventional medicines, may be purchasing herbal supplements to help manage some of their health needs.”

The top-selling herbal singles of 2008 in the food, drug and mass market channel, according to IRI, are cranberry, soy, garlic, saw palmetto and ginkgo biloba. The five top-selling single herbal supplements of 2008 in the health and natural food channel, according to SPINS, were flaxseed oil, wheat grass and barley grass, stevia, aloe vera and milk thistle. These rankings do not include combinations containing multiple herbs.

“There is vast opportunity for innovative herbal products to move outside the category and into the food and beverage universe with the potential of attracting new shopper segments,” commented Mary Ellen Lynch, SPINS director of consumer insights and a co-author of the herb market report. “For example, the antioxidant turmeric, which continues to grow in the natural channel, has this potential due to its link to multiple health benefits, including cardiovascular/liver/brain health, that align well to the mainstream consumer’s growing interest in health and wellness.”

The sales figure is based on data from multiple market research firms — including Information Resources, Inc., the Nutrition Business Journal and SPINS — and found that total herb supplement sales rose by nearly 1% over 2007 sales.

In mass markets, sales of herbal supplements increased more than 7.2% to $289.2 million in 2008, ABC noted, citing IRI year-end data. In the natural and health food channel, herbal supplement sales totaled $329.1 million, according to SPINS data.

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Atherotech to roll out new cholesterol test

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA Atherotech and specialty retailer Any Lab Test Now last week announced the roll out of Atherotech’s VAP Cholesterol Test direct to consumers.

“We are excited to bring the VAP Test directly to consumers at such an attractive price point because it empowers them to manage their own health, gain more insight in their cardiovascular health and provide their health care provider with more information to accurately treat and manage their health,” stated Joe Neely, CEO Any Lab Test Now.

The VAP Cholesterol Test is an expanded cholesterol profile that identifies people at risk and is the first cholesterol test to directly measure LDL.

“Any Lab Test Now is a good fit for the VAP Test as it allows a growing population more access at an affordable price,” added Atherotech president Michael Mullen. “Our test gives people an opportunity to mitigate their risks that might have otherwise gone undetected.”

As part of the partnership, Any Lab Test Now will offer the VAP test individually for $79 and also include it as part of two value panels — the Metabolic Syndrome Panel ($229) and the Heart Health Panel ($279).

Founded in 1992, Any Lab Test Now is a franchise lab testing facility that provides medical lab tests to consumers and employers in a retail setting.

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