HEALTH

Study: Probiotic strain effective in alleviating IBS

BY Michael Johnsen

CLEVELAND A new study published in the March issue of Postgraduate Medicine found that a strain of probiotic bacteria, Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, PTA-6086 was effective in relieving abdominal pain and bloating in subjects with irritable bowel syndrome.

As many as 25% of the U.S. population suffer from IBS, a condition characterized by a number of digestive problems. The new study adds to the growing body of evidence that certain probiotics can help with IBS and provides hope for IBS sufferers of a new option.

“IBS is the most common functional gastrointestinal disorder and represents a tremendous public health problem,” stated Nicholas Talley, author of a scientific review article about the impact functional gastrointestinal disorders have on society.

The study found that subjects taking the Bacillus coagulans probiotic strain experienced statistically significant reductions in abdominal pain and bloating versus baseline at each of the weekly measurements taken throughout the 8-week study. Subjects taking placebo experienced statistically significant reductions in just two of the weekly abdominal pain measurements and saw no statistically significant effect in bloating.

“This study helps confirm that Bacillus coagulans is effective in IBS,” stated Larysa Hun, author of the 44-subject study. “A combination of Bacillus coagulans, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Streptococcus thermophilus was previously shown in a clinical trial to significantly improve IBS symptoms, but it was not possible to determine what effect, if any, each strain had by itself.”

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Johnson & Johnson/Life Scan partners with consumer advocate

BY Michael Johnsen

MILPITAS, Calif. To help people with diabetes get the most value for their healthcare dollar, Johnson & Johnson/LifeScan, maker of OneTouch branded blood glucose meters, has teamed with consumer advocate and syndicated columnist Jim Miller.

“People with diabetes are especially challenged [in today’s economy] because their healthcare costs are twice as high as those of people without diabetes,” stated Alan Cariski, VP worldwide medical safety and external affairs at LifeScan. “While it may be tempting to cut back on healthcare spending by skipping medications or reducing blood glucose testing, we’re working to remind people how important it is to follow the diabetes care regimen recommended by their healthcare professional to help safeguard their health.”

Miller and OneTouch offer the following tips, which include ways to reduce co-pays and find savings through employers and lifestyle modifications – all of which can help people with diabetes maintain their physical and financial health.

For people with health insurance, Miller recommends that consumers:

  • Talk to their pharmacist or insurance company to make sure they’re getting prescriptions and testing supplies at the lowest co-pay. If not, they should talk to their physician about switching prescriptions to the products with the lowest co-pays covered by their health plan. 
  • Buy prescriptions in quantity. For example, a three-month prescription may save money on dispensing fees, which can make it less expensive than buying it month to month. Take advantage of a flexible spending account, if offered by their employer. It reduces taxes by letting consumers pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses and over-the-counter products with pre-tax dollars.
  • Find out if their employer health plan offers any special programs for individuals with chronic conditions that may provide certain needed prescriptions and products for free. For instance, United Healthcare has recently launched a diabetes plan with incentives for prevention.

For people with inadequate or no insurance, Miller suggests consumers:

  • Search for one of the many free or low-cost programs, including individual pharmacy plans, that offer assistance with getting prescriptions or supplies for those who qualify. Good resources for researching these programs include: www.TogetherRxAccess.com; www.Access2wellness.com; www.pparx.org; www.rxassist.org; and www.needymeds.org.
  • Look into free or low-cost health clinics. Federally funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration, there are thousands of health centers around the U.S. that provide low-cost healthcare to people based on financial need.

For all people with diabetes, Miller recommends:

  • For those overweight — diet and exercise; for those who smoke — quit; for those who drink — do so only in moderation.
  • Plan healthy meals with free tools such as the American Diabetes Association’s MyFoodAdvisor (www.diabetes.org/myfoodadvisor) and LifeScan’s www.OneTouchGold.com.

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U.S. District Court finds FDA’s actions on Plan B tainted by politics

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK A federal judge ordered the Food and Drug Administration to allow 17-year-olds to buy the Plan B (levonogestrel) contraceptive pill behind the counter Monday, accusing the FDA of giving in to political influence.

Edward Korman, U.S. district judge for the Eastern District of New York, accused the FDA of dragging its feet in deciding whether to approve BTC sales of the drug to teenage girls. The drug already is sold behind the counter to women 18 and older.

The court has ordered the FDA to make Plan B available to 17-year-olds without prescription starting in 30 days.

Barr Labs, which Teva Pharmaceutical Industries recently acquired, markets Plan B.

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