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Researchers discover increasing alcohol-related deaths among Type 1 diabetics

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — A new study conducted by Finland researchers and published in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal found that alcohol increasingly has become a noteworthy cause of death among Type 1 diabetics.

While investigating short- and long-term time trends in mortality among 17,306 patients diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes under 30 years of age between 1970 and 1999, as well as studying the causes of death over time, researchers followed up with participants for an average of 21 years. They found that survival in the early-onset group (participants ages 0 to 14 years) improved from 1970 to 2007, thanks to a decrease in chronic complications of diabetes. Researchers did find, however, both short- and long-term mortality in the late-onset group (participants ages 15 to 29 years), due to a rise in alcohol- and drug-related mortality and acute complications of diabetes. Overall, mortality due to alcohol- and drug-related causes accounted for 39% of deaths during the first 20 years of diabetes in this group.

"This highlights the importance of permanent and long-lasting doctor-patient relationships, close supervision and guidance on the short-term and long-term effects of alcohol in young people with Type 1 diabetes, especially in our alcohol permissive cultures," the researchers concluded.

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Customer still economy-sensitive, Kroger suggests with positive Q2

BY Michael Johnsen

CINCINNATI — Trips are up, but baskets are down, Kroger reported Friday morning, along with positive second-quarter results. Gas sales also are up with the decline in fuel prices, which is an item Kroger continues to use as a stickiness factor with its loyalty card program.

"Easing fuel prices in Q2 should enhance the profitability of Kroger’s fuel business — higher fuel margins and lower interchange fees — and help the company cycle its most difficult comparison of the year," noted Credit Suisse analyst Ed Kelly. "While the stock has meaningfully outperformed its peers and the market so far this year, and investors have begun to reward the company for its differentiated performance, we believe its solid fundamental momentum, attractive valuation and defensiveness/lower volatility continue to make the stock an attractive investment."

Kroger has been focusing on driving its loyalty household growth rate, which "grew at a faster rate than total household growth, which is also up for the quarter," Rodney McMullen, Kroger COO, told analysts Friday morning. Loyalty households, which represent greater profitability at the expense of local competitors, are defined by a combination of visits and how much a consumer spends, along with research on where those customers are shopping beyond Kroger.

Kroger reported total sales, including fuel, were up 11.5% to $20.9 billion in the second quarter ended Aug. 13. Identical supermarket sales, without fuel, increased 5.3% in the second quarter over the same period last year. This marks 31 consecutive quarters of identical supermarket sales increases for Kroger.

“We are pleased with Kroger’s strong performance this quarter, which we believe is the outcome of our consistent approach to managing the business and executing our Customer 1st strategy,” stated David Dillon, Kroger’s chairman and CEO. “Our ongoing investments in the four keys — our people, products, prices and the shopping experience — continued to enhance our connection with customers and drive positive identical sales growth.”

At the end of the conference call, Dillon noted that Kroger and all employees would remember the 10th anniversary of 9/11 at precisely 8:46 a.m. on Sunday morning with a moment of silence. Dillon shared that one of his store managers, Tim Dowdell, whose brother Kevin was one of 343 emergency services personnel to sacrifice their lives that day, "displays the [American] flag at his store prominently every day, and I love that."

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BioPlus appoints new director of payer relations

BY Alaric DeArment

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. — BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy has hired Brenda Gauthier as its director of payer relations, the company said.

BioPlus said that in her new position, Gauthier, who has worked in specialty infusion for 18 years, would develop and maintain relationships with key payers and other entities. BioPlus said Gauthier had designed and executed many cost-effective, revenue-generating ideas, such as ways of improving reimbursement and cash flow like workshops, reference guides and training programs.

"Brenda’s close relationship with the nation’s leading health plans is one of the reasons we are excited by her joining our managed care team," BioPlus chief strategic officer Russell Gay said. "She has built a reputation as a trusted innovator who builds partnerships by melding our services to the needs of the plan, as well as that of the member."

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