PHARMACY

Research shows taking probiotics can help with antibiotic-related diarrhea

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK Up to one in five people on antibiotics stop taking their full course of antibiotic therapy due to diarrhea, a problem that could be avoided with a prescription for probiotics, according to a recent study by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University published in American Family Physician.

The Einstein scientists reviewed the medical literature and found seven, high-quality studies in which probiotics were administered to people. The researchers concluded that the studies support the use of probiotics for avoiding diarrhea resulting from antibiotic use or from gastrointestinal viral or bacterial infections. In addition, the probiotics used in these studies were found to rarely cause adverse effects, even in children.

“With the level of evidence that probiotics work and the large safety margins for them, we see no good reason not to prescribe probiotics when prescribing antibiotics,” said Benjamin Kligler, a co-author of the study and associate professor of clinical family and social medicine at Einstein. “The only drawback is that probiotics are not covered by health insurance.” On average, a one-month supply of probiotics costs between $8 and $22, researchers stated.

Kligler noted that the effects of probiotics doses are short-lived, so they should be taken throughout a course of antibiotic therapy.

According to researchers, probiotic doses of more than 5 billion colony-forming units per day for children and more than 10 billion colony-forming units per day for adults were associated with the best outcomes.

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CVS Caremark expands H1N1 vaccinations to more locations

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. CVS Caremark is now providing H1N1 flu vaccinations at select CVS/pharmacy locations in Alabama, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Pennsylvania and New York, as well at MinuteClinic locations in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

The eight states are among many that have lifted priority group restrictions, allowing all patients to be eligible to receive the shot while supplies last.

“Our customers depend on CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic for their health care needs, so we are pleased to be able to expand H1N1 vaccine availability to these additional states,” stated Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., chief medical officer of CVS Caremark. “H1N1 flu is currently active in many communities across the country and it is likely that we will see increased flu activity, as is typically the case, in January and February.”

CVS Caremark continues to expand the availability of H1N1 vaccine in its stores and retail health clinics across the country and the vaccine now is available in 28 states and Washington, DC at either CVS/pharmacy or at MinuteClinic.

H1N1 vaccine is being offered at:

  • Select CVS/pharmacy locations in Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii (Longs Drugs stores), Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
  • MinuteClinic locations in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

The cost of the H1N1 flu vaccination shot at CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic is a $15 administration fee, which may be covered by insurance.

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Giant Food launches free antibiotic prescription program

BY Antoinette Alexander

LANDOVER, Md. Giant Food is launching a free antibiotic prescription program that will run from Jan. 2 to March 21 in all Giant pharmacies.

The program covers 36 generic antibiotics in nine basic categories. The retailer is supporting the program with television ads, physician outreach, in-store communication and an expanded Web presence.

“Free antibiotics is the latest good news our pharmacies are offering the public,” stated Andrea Astrachan, consumer advisor for Giant Food. “We also offer up to a 90-day supply on over 350 commonly prescribed generic drugs for only $9.99.”

The company operates 182 supermarkets in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia. Within its 182 stores, 163 have full service pharmacies.

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