PHARMACY

Study: Depression may be both a risk factor and consequence of diabetes

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — A new study published in the Nov. 22 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine suggested there is a two-way relationship between depression and diabetes.

An Pan of the Harvard School of Public Health and colleagues assessed the relationship between the two diseases among 65,381 women who were ages 50 years to 75 years in 1996. After completing an initial questionnaire about their medical history and health practices, participants completed follow-up questionnaires every two years through 2006. The study subjects were classified as having depression if they reported symptoms of depression, using antidepressant medication or being given a diagnosis of depression by a physician. Women who reported a new diagnosis of diabetes completed a supplementary questionnaire about symptoms, diagnostic tests and treatments, the authors said.

During the 10-year follow-up, 2,844 women were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, and 7,415 developed depression. Women with depression were about 17% more likely to develop diabetes after controlling for other risk factors, such as physical activity and body mass index. Those who were taking antidepressants had a 25% higher risk of developing diabetes than those who did not have depression.

After controlling for other risk factors for mood disorders, women with diabetes were 29% more likely to develop depression. Women who took insulin for diabetes had a further increased risk — 53% higher than women without diabetes.

"The findings from this well-characterized cohort of more than 55,000 U.S. women with 10 years’ follow-up add to the growing evidence that depression and diabetes are closely related to each other, and this reciprocal association also depends on the severity or treatment of each condition," the authors wrote. "All the associations were independent of sociodemographic, diet and lifestyle factors."

The study was supported by a National Institutes of Health grant.

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PHARMACY

UnitedHealthcare partners with Kroger, Safeway on $2 generic Part D plan

BY Alaric DeArment

MINNETONKA, Minn. — UnitedHealth Group will start a program next year that it said can reduce drug costs to as low as $2 per script, the company said Tuesday.

The program, Pharmacy Saver, will be available to Medicare Part D members and is a collaboration with Kroger, Safeway and Prescription Solutions. The program will allow members to purchase some scripts for $2 for 30- and some 90-day supplies and applies to hundreds of prescription drugs, including 8-of-the-10 most commonly used by UnitedHealthcare Medicare plan members.

“Economic pressures are putting a strain on many people’s budgets, including [those of] many seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries living on fixed incomes,” UnitedHealthcare Medicare and Retirement CEO Tom Paul said. “Pharmacy Saver is another example of our promise to provide our members with affordable prescription drugs.”

The program is similar to one that Walmart and Humana launched at the beginning of October that charges Medicare Part D members a $14.80 monthly premium, generic drug co-payments as low as $2 at Walmart pharmacies and no co-payments for certain generics filled through Humana’s RightSource home-delivery service.

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dLife sheds light on diabetic patients’ struggles with healthcare costs

BY Alaric DeArment

WESTPORT, Conn. — More than half of people with diabetes struggle to pay for their medical supplies, according to a poll by diabetes community network dLife.com.

The poll also found that 49% of the more than 800 people surveyed were able to make ends meet with income and health insurance, but still felt stress, particularly during certain months of the year.

Meanwhile, more than 30% reported having to cut back on prescription drugs, supplies and medical care, while 16% accepted community or government assistance programs.

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