HEALTH

Researchers find link between vitamin D and obesity

BY Anna Mcgrath

CHICAGO Researchers found that body mass index should be considered when assessing a cancer patient’s vitamin D status after discovering obese cancer patients had significantly lower levels of vitamin D, compared with non-obese patients.

Despite data from researchers at Cancer Treatment Centers for America, this supposed correlation between vitamin D and obesity remains uncertain because conflicting data exists.

“Currently, the dietary recommendations for vitamin D do not take into account a patient’s BMI,” said Carolyn Lammersfeld  national director of nutrition for CTCA and a principal investigator in the study. “We investigated the relationship between vitamin D and BMI in a large sample of cancer patients and found that as BMI groups increased from normal to overweight or obese classifications, there was a significant decrease in vitamin D.”

According to the study that CTCA presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting May 29 to June 2, obese cancer patients have significantly lower levels of vitamin D, and more aggressive vitamin D supplementation should be considered in obese cancer patients.

KelloggsDRSNhttp://www.centerstoregrowth.com

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Pharmacy groups brief Congress on health, cost benefits of MTM

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK Making sure that medication therapy management is a part of any new healthcare reform legislation is a major priority for this industry, but it may be even more critical to the U.S. healthcare system.

 

Here’s why: according to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid estimates, $2.5 trillion will be spent on health care this year. Approximately 54% of that spend was assumed by private insurers and out-of-pocket costs. By 2018, the majority of that spend is expected to shift toward the government, CMS predicts, with an assumption of some 51% of the $4.4 trillion projected spend then.

 

Meanwhile, pharmacists do a lot more than just fill prescriptions, such as work with physicians to optimize therapeutic choices, and help patients understand their medications and how to take them. These types of services already help save billions each year in unnecessary hospitalizations and emergency room visits by preventing dangerous interactions and adverse effects.

Then there’s MTM.

Using diabetes as just one example, such programs as the Diabetes Ten City Challenge, a national program launched by the APhA Foundation in 2005 that today is saving up to $1,000 per year per patient through a pharmacist-driven patient intervention.

Walgreens Health Initiatives in 2006 determined that its MTM program netted a 2.5:1 return on investment, saving some $408,000 annually for each 100,000 covered.

Take either one of those studies and extrapolate those savings across the ever-growing Medicare population, and you have some real  potential to take a significant bite out of that $2.2 trillion in projected government healthcare costs within the next 10 years.

What’s real telling, however, is that Congress is listening to what pharmacy might be able to offer. This Tuesday, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores is hosting its first RxIMPACT Day on Capital Hill. Already, 60 leaders from over 20 states have committed to attend.

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CDC director: Get traditional flu vaccine and H1N1 vaccine next season

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA Should consumers later this year be more concerned about getting a vaccine shot for the novel H1N1 strain, should one be developed in time, in place of maybe the seasonal influenza vaccine?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the answer is both — consumers should at least get the seasonal vaccine that’s being produced currently, as well as the novel H1N1 strain that was officially raised to pandemic status earlier this week, should one be available.

“We are continuing to expect to be administering the seasonal influenza vaccine and making sure people get it,” Anne Schuchat, CDC’s director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters in a press briefing Thursday. “Seasonal influenza can be a bad thing. About 36,000 people die from that every year, and it’s disproportionately a problem in the elderly and the vaccines that are available can really reduce illness as well as some of the complications,” she said.

The importance around inoculating the population against seasonal flu is in the danger of strain mutation, she said. “Seasonal H1N1 virus that we’ve had this past year is resistant to Tamiflu. And we really don’t want this novel H1N1 virus to become resistant to Tamiflu as well so there can be some benefit from trying to reduce these other infections even in the circumstance of a novel strain,” she advised. “I think it’s really premature for us to make any definitive conclusions about the seasonal influenza vaccine, but based on what I know today, I’m not expecting us to change our recommendations about that.”

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