HEALTH

Report: San Francisco supervisors OK tobacco sales ban at pharmacies

BY Alaric DeArment

SAN FRANCISCO San Francisco’s board of supervisors voted for an expansion of the city’s anti-tobacco law, according to published reports.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday that the supervisors gave preliminary approval to a law to expand a law passed in 2008 to ban tobacco sales at drug stores to include all retailers that operate pharmacies, including mass merchandisers and supermarkets.

The original law had attracted opposition from Walgreens and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores on the grounds that it discriminated against drug stores. Supporters of the law asserted that its purpose was to rectify what they saw as the contradictory nature of a healthcare institution, such as a pharmacy selling an unhealthful product.

Asimilar law was enacted in Boston around the same time as the San Francisco law, though the Boston law banned tobacco sales at all retailers that operate pharmacies.

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Sanofi-Aventis, Paul and Mira Sorvino launch ‘Diabetes Co-Stars’ program

BY Allison Cerra

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. Sanofi-Aventis has tapped actors Paul and Mira Sorvino to launch an awareness program aimed to help people living with diabetes and those who support them.

 

The "Diabetes Co-Stars" program provides family and friends of diabetics with advice on lifestyle choices, healthy cooking, promoting physical activity and treatment options including insulin, Sanofi-Aventis said. DiabetesCoStars.com provides links to the Sanofi-Aventis diabetes social media pages, including Facebook and Twitter.

 

The website also provides a look into Paul Sorvino’s life with Type 2 diabetes and how he manages his condition. Sorvino was diagnosed in 2006 with the condition, and at the direction of his doctor, he began taking prescription oral diabetes medications, including Sanofi-Aventis’ diabetes drug Lantus. While treatment and lifestyle changes continue to help Sorvino on his diabetes journey, having support from his daughter, Mira, also has helped Sorvino to make the right decisions.

 

"’Diabetes Co-Stars’ will help inspire people to find support for their diabetes journey," Sorvino said. "After my diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes, I was completely overwhelmed. I realized the importance of learning how to manage the condition, and that I don’t have to do it alone. I also worked with my doctor to discuss lifestyle changes and to find a treatment plan that works for me."

 

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NCPA to HHS: Pharmacists are allies in health-reform shift to preventive care

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The reformed U.S. healthcare system could unleash a surge in patient demand for preventive care services, and community pharmacists should be part of any plan to meet that demand, the independent pharmacy lobby told Obama administration health officials.

That message came from the National Community Pharmacists Association in comments recently submitted to the Department of Health and Human Services. The group urged the officials implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to make full use of community pharmacists in the nation’s increasing reliance on preventive care — particularly if the health-reform law encourages patients to take advantage of low-cost health-and-wellness services provided through federally funded programs.

The NCPA weighed in after HHS issued a proposed interim final rule on the implementation of the massive health-reform act. The agency is recommending that participating health plans and insurers waive patient co-pays for certain recommended preventive services and vaccines.

“Examples of preventative services commonly available at community pharmacies include blood pressure and cholesterol screening, tobacco cessation and obesity-related counseling and intervention,” the NCPA noted. “The HHS requirement would apply to private, nongrandfathered group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage through the health insurance exchanges scheduled to take effect in 2014.”

The independent pharmacy group is asking HHS to make two adjustments to its proposed rule. One, the NCPA told the agency, is to “modify the rule to allow patients to receive certain preventative services from any qualified provider [including community pharmacies] without incurring a co-payment.” The group also urged HHS to “actively promote a more collaborative approach to healthcare services by encouraging health plans to enlist the services of allied healthcare providers, such as pharmacists, to help provide community-based preventative care services to plan enrollees.”

An initial investment in preventative care services, the NCPA noted in its comments, “can reap many downstream benefits, including demonstrable improvement in patient care outcomes, a reduction in hospital re-admissions and ultimately savings due to lower healthcare costs.”

“Just as the practice of medicine has undergone a change in focus from treatment of disease states to preventative care, pharmacy has gone from an emphasis on medication dispensing to one of effective medication use and achieving optimal patient outcomes,” the group told HHS officials.

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