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Senate forum to tackle heroin, opioid addiction

BY Antoinette Alexander

WASHINGTON — As the heroin and opioid epidemic spreads through communities across the United States, Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, will hold a forum on Wednesday to discuss opioid addiction, focusing on the use of buprenorphine to help combat opioid abuse and the obstacles that have prevented even more patients from getting buprenorphine treatment. 



The senators have heard from many physicians who have said that buprenorphine has been highly successful in treating patients with heroin and opioid addiction, but the doctors stress that many more patients could benefit from the medication. The senators will hear from health professionals who will share their thoughts on addressing the impediments that have hindered the treatment of more patients, including patient limits imposed on doctors, waiting lists, costs, and shortage of certified doctors. They will discuss proposals that could help expand access to treatment.
 


Participants in the forum include Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse; Westley Clark, director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment at SAMHSA; Elinore McCance-Katz, SAMHSA’s chief medical officer; Michael Botticelli, acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy; Andrew Kolodny, chief medical officer of Phoenix House; Colleen LaBelle, program director State OBOT B and Boston Medical Center; John Kitzmiller, a physician and certified buprenorphine provider from Lake Orion, Mich.; and other physicians, addiction experts, and buprenorphine patients.
 


Levin and Hatch have long been involved in the effort to expand buprenorphine treatment. The senators sponsored a 2000 law, the Drug Addiction Treatment Act, which made it legal for physicians to prescribe buprenorphine in their offices, and the FDA approved its use in 2002.  

DATA 2000 established a 30-patient limit for doctors, however, which experts later found to unduly limit access to the medication. Levin and Hatch held a 2006 forum to examine the patient limit, and they subsequently authored successful legislation to raise the limit to 100 patients.

 

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Motley Fool: RAD’s ‘great comeback’ continues with Health Alliance pilot

BY Antoinette Alexander

CAMP HILL, Pa. — While the upswing in Rite Aid’s bottom line and shares continue to gain attention, Motley Fool’s consumer goods analyst Sean O’Reilly suggests that the pharmacy retailer has “an even bigger ace up its sleeve.” Enter the chain’s new Health Alliance program.

“Rite Aid is just beginning to roll out a new initiative that has potentially major implications not only for its shareholders but for the health care industry itself,” O’Reilly said.

Unveiled earlier this year, Rite Aid Health Alliance provides comprehensive care and support to individuals with chronic and poly-chronic health conditions and helps them achieve health improvement goals established by their physicians.

Through Rite Aid Health Alliance, patients with chronic and poly-chronic conditions, like congestive heart failure, COPD, high cholesterol and diabetes, are recommended to the program by their primary care physician. Rite Aid pharmacists and specially trained care coaches, located in Rite Aid pharmacies, work with the physician and patient on an on-going basis to improve the patient’s overall health and self-management abilities. The care team members collaborate with the patient to establish health goals, eliminate barriers and create a personalized healthcare action plan in coordination with the patient’s physician.

Currently, the company is piloting Rite Aid Health Alliance partnerships with High Point, N.C.-based Cornerstone Health Care; Glendale, Calif.-based Apollo Medical Holdings; and Greater Buffalo United Accountable Healthcare Network of Buffalo, N.Y. And in June it was announced that Penn State Hershey Health System is the latest healthcare provider to join the initiative.

 

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Survey highlights U.S. households’ growing interest in organic food

BY David Salazar

WASHINGTON — A new study from the Organic Trade Organization says that organic food is popular in U.S. households, due in large part because parents are interested in their children eating healthily.

According to the study released Monday, about 80% of the 1,200 households surveyed had purchased organic products in the past two years, and 90% said that their children are the reason they do so.

While about 25% of those surveyed said they always buy organic, that number is higher among households with infants, where about 33% said they always bought organic baby food. Overall, about 19% of people reported not buying any organic products in the past two years — a lower number than the 30% that hadn’t bought organic in the same survey five years ago.

“Choosing organic foods is increasingly a large part of how families are trying to take better care of themselves and the planet,” the OTA’s CEO and executive director, Laura Batcha, said, adding that “those who are choosing organic are buying more.”

The increase in interest in organic products coincides with a high point among organic sales, which were at $35.1 billion dollars in 2013. This year, organic sales are projected to jump about 12%.

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