PHARMACY

Report: ‘Cutting the fat’ with new tax may help healthcare costs

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Health experts have long since pinpointed obesity as a major culprit in such chronic diseases as hypertension and diabetes. But obesity burdens non-obese people as well, and a new report by a Washington think-tank proposes a fat tax to counteract the problem.

The report, by the Urban Institute and the University of Virginia, notes that workers with private health insurance pay $26 billion more in premiums due to costs generated by their obese coworkers, and half of the $200 billion in healthcare costs spent on obesity every year falls on taxpayers.

The report’s authors suggest imposing an excise tax on fattening foods, requiring restaurant chains to include nutrition information on their menus and banning the advertising and marketing of junk food. This, the authors wrote, would help bring down the cost of health care and raise $530 billion in revenues over the next 10 years.

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Food industry vets commence new lobbying practice

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON Policy Solutions, a new government and public affairs firm, has opened a practice in Washington, led by three food industry veterans.

The new firm will provide strategic advice to its clients and assistance in coalition building, grassroots program development, media relations, and in community outreach and corporate responsibility programs.

The three principals of the lobbying group include John Motley, former SVP government affairs for the Food Marketing Institute; Barry Scher, former long-time VP public affairs for Giant Foods; and Jay Truitt, former VP government affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. 

“With both a new Congress and administration, there will be increased legislative and regulatory activity. Policy Solution’s principals have an extensive experience in working with both Congress and the Executive Branch on a wide range of policy issues, from food safety to energy and from taxes to health care,” said Motley.

For more information on this group, visit policy-solutions.net.

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PHARMACY

Wegmans seeks to reduce paper usage for prescriptions

BY Michael Johnsen

ROCHESTER, N.Y. Wegmans’ SVP of consumer affairs Mary Ellen Burris on Sunday noted that Wegmans pharmacies are losing a significant amount of paper weight in her weekly online blog.

Wegmans pharmacies are eliminating pharmacy prescription information sheets for all refills, she noted, which would more or less result in 10 million fewer printouts each year.

“That’s the scoop on … you know, the enclosure with every single prescription that you probably don’t even read while you’re throwing it away,” she wrote. “Now, there are some you should read … a first time prescription, for instance. However, after you understand the precautions, use, side effects, drug interactions and storage (my favorite, for a recently prescribed drug: “do not store in the bathroom” which is where I keep all medical stuff) … such information is typically not really needed for refills.”

Completing implementation of new pharmacy software made it possible, Burris noted, making pharmacy prescription information sheets for refills, which consist of about 50% of the prescriptions filled at Wegmans, obsolete.

Essential information is still printed with each prescription filled, however.

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