HEALTH

Study: Humidifiers may aid in reduction of airborne flu viruses

BY Allison Cerra

LONDON and BOSTON A study sponsored by Kaz, the manufacturer of Vicks humidifiers, found that such devices as humidifiers may play a role in reducing airborne flu viruses in the home.

The study, "Modeling the airborne survival of influenza virus in a residential setting: The impacts of home humidification," was published in the open-access, peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health. The study examined the role of heat and humidity indoors and found that when homes are kept at the optimal 40% to 60% relative humidity level, airborne flu virus survival time decreases — up to 30% for homes with radiant heat and 17% for homes with forced air heat. The researchers also suggested that since the water vapor levels in the air during the winter time are low, consumers should use a device known as a hygrometer to determine whether or not the humidity indoors is at an optimal level.

"Eliminating a considerable share of airborne influenza viruses through the use of a humidifier could be very beneficial to households this winter," said Ted Myatt, senior scientist at consulting firm Environmental Health and Engineering Inc., and biological safety officer at the Harvard Institute of Medicine in Massachusetts. "However, families should be careful not to go overboard with over-humidifying, because the optimal relative humidity range for indoor comfort and decreased influenza is between 40% and 60%."

Click here to read the full text of the journal article.

In related news, Kaz recently launched a Facebook page devoted to informing families about some of the best defenses against colds and the flu.

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Dr. Siegal’s Cookie Diet introduces CalciOs

BY Allison Cerra

VIENNA, Va. Dr. Siegal’s Cookie Diet has expanded its offerings to include calcium-fortified cookies designed to treat occasional heartburn.

CalciOs cookies are vanilla-flavored cookies, each one providing 30% of the daily value of dietary calcium, Dr. Siegal’s Cookie Diet said. The cookies contain calcium carbonate, designed to treat heartburn relief. CalciOs also are free of artificial colors and preservatives.

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Pharmacies should get out of tobacco-selling, into smoking-cessation game

BY Antoinette Alexander

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT The news that San Francisco’s board of supervisors gave preliminary approval to ban tobacco sales at all retailers that operate pharmacies, including mass merchants and grocers, is a step in the right direction, because if drug stores are going to be banned from selling them, then all retail pharmacy outlets should be banned. However, there’s an even bigger picture to consider.

(THE NEWS: Report: San Francisco supervisors OK tobacco sales ban at pharmacies. For the full story, click here)

As many dollars as pharmacy retailers made selling cigarettes, there is much more to be gained in medication therapy management, and there is a significant opportunity for retail pharmacy to have a greater stake in the future of health care.

Cigarette smoking has been identified as the most important source of preventable disease, illness and death worldwide, according to the American Lung Association. Smoking-related diseases claim an estimated 443,000 American lives each year, including those affected indirectly by "secondhand" smoke.

Furthermore, smoking-related healthcare expenditures are a major drain on the U.S. healthcare system. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking cost the United States more than $193 billion in 2004, including $97 billion in lost productivity and $96 billion in direct healthcare expenditures, or an average of $4,260 per adult smoker.

Clearly, there’s a positive role that pharmacists can play in smoking cessation. To further support this, a recently published study on the "effect of a pharmacist-managed smoking-cessation clinic on quit rates" found that pharmacists can play a vital role in smoking cessation, especially in a group setting, as they can reach more people within the same time frame.

The study found that at three months and six months, 47.6% and 52.4% of patients reported being smoke-free, respectively. The study was conducted on patients that had participated in the pharmacist-managed Smoking Cessation Group Clinic at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Participants received structured group counseling on various topics associated with cessation.

It also should be noted that in August, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that Medicare coverage for seniors trying to quit smoking was expanded to include everyone on Medicare.

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