HEALTH

Stopain partners with Arthritis Foundation

BY Michael Johnsen

ENCINITAS, Calif. DRJ Group, the makers of Stopain topical analgesics, on Tuesday announced that new product packaging labels showing the company’s support for the Arthritis Foundation will begin appearing on store shelves.

The labels read, in part, “Your purchase benefits the Arthritis Foundation. For every unit of Stopain products sold, DRJ Group will donate a portion of the proceeds to the Arthritis Foundation with a minimum contribution of $25,000 to help people take control of arthritis.”

The new label messaging is part the company’s year-long awareness and fundraising initiative with the Arthritis Foundation.

As part of the initiative, DRJ Group released a video in cooperation with the Arthritis Foundation –– Stop Pain. Start Dancing –– which stars motivational speaker and dancer, Judson Laipply. The video was designed to help spread the message that staying active has long-term health benefits, including managing the effects of arthritis.

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WHO: H1N1 to be included in next year’s seasonal flu vaccine

BY Michael Johnsen

GENEVA During a press conference held Thursday, the World Health Organization updated the status of the novel H1N1 pandemic and announced that the novel H1N1 influenza vaccine would be incorporated into next season’s seasonal flu vaccine.

The triumvirate vaccine will include protection against the novel H1N1 virus, an H3N2 strain and a type-B virus.

“What the scientists said was that in the past year, the overwhelming number of influenza viruses that were isolated around the world were the pandemic H1N1 virus,” Keiji Fukuda, special adviser to the WHO’s director-general for pandemic influenza, told reporters. “The experts believe based on this information that these viruses will continue to be one of the dominant viruses in wide circulation in the coming fall and winter season in the northern hemisphere.”

However, substituting the pandemic H1N1 virus in place of last year’s seasonal H1N1 inoculation does not suggest that the novel H1N1 pandemic has concluded its course, Fukuda warned. “The recommendation to put the pandemic virus in the upcoming vaccine really means that this has been a dominant virus. And it is expected that it will continue to be a significant virus, circulating around the world as we head into the winter or the coming winter in 2010 and 2011.”

WHO will be convening its Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations Feb. 23, Fukuda added, noting that the meeting will be both to review the overall epidemiologic and virologic situation, and to provide some guidance to WHO as to whether we can consider ourselves in “the so-called post-peak period.”

The post-peak period is a transition period in which WHO continues to expect to see pandemic activity occur at different levels in different parts of the world, but that the worst has come to pass, Fukuda said. WHO will not be removing the “pandemic” status, however, Fukuda added. “The practical effect of indicating that we are in a post-peak period is really to give a broad signal to the world that even though we may continue to see pandemic activity that we expect that we are transitioning more towards a normal level.”

The highest levels of pandemic activity currently are occurring in parts of Eastern Europe, some parts of Northern Africa and parts of Asia.

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Oklahoma considers registry for meth convicts

BY Michael Johnsen

OKLAHOMA CITY The Oklahoma House Public Safety Committee voted on Wednesday to create a state registry of meth offenders similar to the sex-offender registry as part of House Bill 3380, the Oklahoma Methamphetamine Offender Registry Act. The measure now moves for consideration by the entire Oklahoma House of Representatives.

“The meth offender registry will help the public identify potential threats in their neighborhoods and increase scrutiny on individuals who have been involved in meth production and distribution,” stated Rep. Randy Terrill, R-Moore. “The increased public awareness should help deter these criminals from future crimes or lead to their swift arrest if they recidivate.”

“This is an important public safety measure and I am pleased it has received committee passage,” added Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore. “Once it passes the full House, I look forward to moving it through the Senate and hopefully on to the governor.”

Under the bill, those convicted of possession, manufacture or distribution of methamphetamine would be required to register with the state.

Individuals listed in the registry due to a previous meth conviction will be blocked from purchasing pseudoephedrine at any pharmacy. Additionally, those listed in the Methamphetamine Offender Registry will be prohibited from possessing pseudoephedrine.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control would maintain the registry, which would include the following information: name of the offender, date of birth, offenses and conviction, and county where the offense occurred.

Over the past two years, a new recipe has surfaced utilizing smaller amounts of pseudoephedrine that has resulted in a boom in methamphetamine production in Oklahoma, the legislators announced.

According to the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, the new recipe is responsible for a dramatic increase in meth lab seizures — from 213 labs in 2008 to 690 labs in 2009.

Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics data collected on customers attempting to purchase pseudoephedrine shows many of them have a criminal history involving methamphetamine offenses.

The proposed Oklahoma Methamphetamine Offender Registry will be tied to the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics’ existing database used to track pseudoephedrine purchases.

The bill has the support of Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics officials.

“We must be strategic and surgical in our pursuit of the controls of pseudoephedrine,” commented Darrell Weaver, director of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics. “There are many good citizens in Oklahoma who need it and should not be denied access. But there are illicit methamphetamine manufacturers in Oklahoma who will destroy themselves and everyone in their paths with clandestine laboratories.”

The legislation also has been endorsed by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, the trade association representing major U.S. manufacturers of nonprescription medicines.

In a letter provided to committee members, CHPA director of state government relations Mandy Hagan stated: “CHPA supports Oklahoma’s efforts to enhance enforcement of its progressive precursor control laws and continue to fight the illegal diversion of PSE [pseudoephedrine] for meth manufacture. HB 3380 provides an additional tool to law enforcement in that fight.”

Individuals who are not convicted of subsequent meth offenses within 10 years could then have their name removed from the registry. Any person who completes a deferred sentence prior to the 10-year time limitation could provide the state a certified copy of the dismissal of the case and also have his or her name removed.

Under the bill, any individual who assists a person on the registry in the purchase of any pseudoephedrine products could face one year in jail or a fine of up to $1,000, or both, on the first conviction. Subsequent convictions could result in a two-year prison sentence and fine of at least $2,500 or both.

House Bill 3380 was passed the House Public Safety Committee Wednesday. It now goes to the floor of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

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