Scientists find additive found in plastics harmful to women’s heart health
CINCINNATI New research by a team of scientists at the University of Cincinnati released last week found that bisphenol A — an additive in many plastics — may be harmful for the heart, particularly in women. BPA, an environmental pollutant with estrogen activity, is used to make hard, clear plastic and is common in many food product containers. It has been linked to neurological defects, diabetes and breast and prostate cancers.
A research team led by Scott Belcher in the department of pharmacology and cell biophysics found that exposure to BPA and/or estrogen caused abnormal activity in hearts of female rats and mice.
“Low doses of BPA markedly increased the frequency of arrhythmic events,” Belcher said. “The effect of BPA on these cardiac arrhythmias was amplified when exposed to estradiol, the major estrogen hormone in humans. These studies have identified new and important potential cardiac risks associated with BPA exposure that may be especially important for women’s heart health.”
Results of several studies were presented in Washington at ENDO 09, the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting, June 10 to 13.
Pharmacy groups brief Congress on health, cost benefits of MTM
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.
CDC director: Get traditional flu vaccine and H1N1 vaccine next season
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.”