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A statement that government needs to take seriously

BY Steve Anderson

The Congressional Research Service issued a new report last week that includes an important statement: "Federal policy on PCS [prescription controlled substances] aims to balance the need to limit abuse of PCS with the need to maintain access to PCS for legitimate medical use. The federal government's approach to addressing prescription drug abuse has increasingly relied on coordination across agencies, including both law enforcement and health agencies." 

At least two things can be said about that statement. First, it articulates the way things should be. But, second, it probably overstates the degree to which the government is pursuing this dual responsibility.

The Congressional Research Service is a nonpartisan and objective arm of the Library of Congress that analyzes issues for legislators' consideration. Its inclusion of this statement in its report on prescription drug abuse shows progress in telling both sides of this complex issue. However, much more needs to be done to ensure legitimate access to these medications for patients.

That is one of the reasons that this week's "mark-up" — or bill-writing session — by the Health Subcommittee of the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee is so important. The Subcommittee adapted and approved the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act (H.R. 4709), sponsored by Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) and Energy and Commerce Committee Vice Chair Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). NACDS affirmed support for the bill, which would establish a framework to foster collaboration among health and enforcement officials on this issue.
 
The Subcommittee's action represents an important step, among other steps that are needed, to make the Congressional Research Service's statement a reality.

The views expressed here are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DSN.


Steve Anderson is the president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

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La Roche-Posay, Women’s Dermatologic Society promoting sun safety for those with darker skin tones

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK — Looking to change sunscreen habits for those with darker skin tones, La Roche-Posay and the Women’s Dermatologic Society have teamed up to take a stand by not just raising awareness, but encouraging true behavioral change through educating on two key motivators: Sunscreen can make your skin more healthy and beautiful and sunscreens don’t have to feel greasy or leave a chalky finish.

Skin cancer might not seem like a significant health threat for those with darker skin tones, but according to recent studies, it should be. In fact, 1-out-of-5 Americans will get skin cancer, and although melanoma incidence is higher in Caucasians, the five-year survival rates for African Americans (78%) are significantly lower than that of Caucasians (92%). This is because of the common misconception that protection from the sun is not necessary for those with darker skin tones. As a result, people of color are more likely to wait until the disease has reached an advanced stage to visit the dermatologist, or worse, don’t visit the dermatologist at all.

The approach came about due to a recent study that showed daily sunscreen use can improve the overall quality of skin for all skin tones. In fact, 90% of Hispanics showed an improvement in the intensity of dark spots, and 64% of those with skin of color showed an improvement in the number of dark spots. As there has been little research on this subject, the study was recently presented at the annual American Academy of Dermatology meeting and recognized as an award-winning study by the Skin of Color Symposium in Denver earlier this year.

Furthermore, compliance tends to be an issue among all sunscreen users. About half (51%) of Americans don’t use sunscreen due to texture.

The La Roche-Posay SOS — Save Our Skin initiative that supports the Women’s Dermatologic Society’s ongoing Play Safe in the Sun campaign — decided to take the program nationwide this year to change the way this demographic thinks about sunscreen use. Throughout 2014, this volunteer program will spread awareness about the benefits of sunscreen at key events across the country targeting the ethnic skin audience at various sporting events, breast cancer walks, urban family festivals, and WDS member-driven grassroots activities where free skin cancer screenings and sunscreen samples will be offered.

"As the new president of the WDS, it’s so important that we are all properly educated about the risks of sun exposure and proper sunscreen use," stated Valerie Callender, WDS president. "This is particularly important since the U.S. population is rapidly changing. By the year 2050, more than half of our country’s population will be comprised of ethnic minorities8. Daily sunscreen use is clinically proven to not only help in the prevention of skin cancer, but also improves the overall health and quality of skin."

 

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Sam’s Club rolls out new ‘Cash Rewards’ program

BY Antoinette Alexander

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Sam’s Club has announced the national rollout of Cash Rewards, a new program that provides $10 in Cash Rewards for every $500 spent on qualifying pre-tax purchases.
 
Beginning June 12, Sam’s Club Plus members will automatically be enrolled to start earning up to $500 in Cash Rewards annually.
 
The rewards, loaded annually onto membership cards, can be used for purchases in-club or on SamsClub.com, applied to annual membership fees, or redeemed for cash at any Sam’s Club register. Sam’s Club Plus members can track their Cash Rewards through their SamsClub.com account, the Sam’s Club mobile app, or at the Member Services Desk.
 
For current Sam’s Club Plus and those that upgrade to it, the benefits include:

  • Early Shopping Hours: Club doors open at 7 a.m. Monday through Saturday, three hours earlier than regular shopping hours;
  • Extra Protection Service Plan: Receive an extra year of coverage with the purchase of a Protection or Care Plan (excludes cameras, computers, smartphones and tablets);
  • Pharmacy Discount: Members can take advantage of 8% savings on name-brand prescriptions and the Extra Value Drug List provides up to 40% savings on many generics when not using prescription drug coverage. In 2012, Plus members using the discount saved on average $16 per prescription versus the regular Sam’s Club retail price; and
  • Optical Discount: Take$40 off a regular-priced pair of prescription eyeglasses when purchasing a one-year supply of contact lenses not using vision plan/insurance benefits.
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