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Retailers keep pertussis vaccinations simple

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — Physicians’ offices already have enough on their plate that a wave of new appointments for pertussis vaccinations would overwhelm them. For that reason, it’s essential that pharmacists and retail clinicians step in to ensure that kids, and especially adults, get vaccinated against the disease.

(THE NEWS: "Supervalu makes Tdap vaccines available across chain to fight whooping cough spread." For the full story, click here.)

Whooping cough epidemics already have broken out across the country, with the one under way in Washington state particularly serious. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of cases there has risen nearly fivefold in less than four months, with the 640 cases reported in early April increasing to more than 3,000 as of July 20, out of the 18,000 cases nationwide reported so far to the CDC. Nine babies have died.

Because of that, the CDC recommends vaccinations for pregnant women and anyone in contact with small children and infants. Thus, efforts like Supervalu’s, as well as boosts in vaccine supplies in hard-hit states by such retailers as Walgreens and Rite Aid and MinuteClinic’s stocking of pertussis and other vaccines in preparation for the back-to-school season will go a long way toward helping stamp out the epidemic of a disease that once was a greatly feared killer of small children, but until recently had mostly been kept under control, especially because walking into a pharmacy or retail clinic is much less of a hassle than setting up an appointment by a doctor.

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FDA approves Rayos

BY Allison Cerra

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Horizon Pharma announced it has received regulatory approval from the Food and Drug Administration for one of its drugs.

The drug maker said Rayos (prednisone) delayed-release tablets — in the 1-mg, 2-mg and 5-mg stregnths — were approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatica, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

"We are extremely pleased the FDA has approved Rayos for a broad range of indications, including RA and polymyalgia rheumatica," Horizon Pharma chairman, president and CEO Timothy Walbert said. "Our initial focus will be on the launch of Rayos in rheumatologic diseases, such as RA and polymyalgia rheumatica, in the fourth quarter of this year. Based on the extent of the approved indications, we will be developing a broader commercial strategy to expand the opportunity for Rayos in key IL-6 mediated diseases, including asthma and COPD."


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MinuteClinic readies for BTS season, fall sports practice

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — MinuteClinic, the walk-in medical clinics inside CVS/pharmacy stores in 25 states and the District of Columbia, is gearing up for the back-to-school season by reminding parents that it is a one-stop location where students can get their required vaccinations and sports and college physicals as four states issue new immunization mandates.

"MinuteClinic practitioners are a great resource for parents who may be confused about school or sports health requirements and want to make sure their children are up to date with immunizations before the first day of school or practice," stated Paulette Thabault, MinuteClinic chief nurse practitioner officer. "All MinuteClinic locations are open seven days a week and are fully stocked with vaccines to protect against whooping cough (pertussis), hepatitis A and B, measles, tetanus, meningitis and other diseases."

Four states issue new immunization mandates
According to the CDC, the United States is on track to have the highest number of  whooping cough cases since 1959. Four states — California, Illinois, Oklahoma and South Carolina — recently have changed their immunization mandates and now join other states in requiring students to obtain a Tdap booster prior to beginning middle school. States already requiring the booster include Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection that affects individuals of any age, but is potentially fatal when contracted by an infant. Family members and anyone who comes in contact with young children are encouraged to get boosters regardless of legal requirements, as they often unknowingly pass along the infection.

Meningitis immunization guidelines also have changed. A new Texas law requires all first-year college students in 2012 to have a meningitis vaccination prior to beginning classes. Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia are among the others with meningitis vaccine requirements for incoming freshman.

Bacterial meningitis is a life-threatening disease caused by the inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. According to the CDC, young adults living and going to class on crowded college or boarding school campuses and surrounded by individuals from various geographic areas are at highest risk for the disease.

Vaccinations at MinuteClinic may be covered by health insurance plans, so patients should check with their insurance provider for coverage details.

Sports and college physicals
With football, cross country, field hockey, soccer and other fall sports practices about to begin, MinuteClinic also offers sports physicals for student athletes who need preparticipation exams, often required by many states, school systems and athletic leagues. In addition, many colleges and universities require incoming freshmen to receive a physical prior to arriving on campus.

During a sports or college physical, MinuteClinic practitioners review medical history and check to see if immunizations are up to date; check vital signs and reflexes; and provide an overall assessment of physical condition to make sure young adults are not at risk for illness or injury. Practitioners also discuss sports safety measures with athletes, including the use of mouth guards, the importance of proper-fitting shoes and equipment, and tips on how to remain hydrated throughout games and practices.

Once a child is cleared for participation or admission, practitioners stamp any required forms and reference the exam results on the official patient summary. Sports physicals at MinuteClinic are $49 through Sept. 30. Coaches and athletic directors can secure group discounts for $5 off per athlete when they register their team of 12 or more at MinuteClinic.com/Discount. College physicals are $69. Sports and college physicals are not covered by insurance.

In addition, MinuteClinic practitioners administer vaccinations, conduct physicals and wellness screenings, and offer monitoring and point-of-care testing for such chronic conditions as diabetes, high cholesterol and blood pressure.

 

 


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