PHARMACY

Study shows link between use of antacids while pregnant, asthma in child

BY Michael Johnsen

BOSTON Use of antacids among pregnant women increases the likelihood that a child will develop asthma, according to a recent study published in the journal Clinical & Experimental Allergy.

Children of mothers who took acid-suppressive drugs during pregnancy had a 1.5 times higher incidence of asthma when compared with children who were not exposed to the drugs in utero, found a large population-based study by researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston.

Researchers examined mother-child allergy relationships using national health registers in Sweden, which contain records of all hospitalizations and drug prescriptions. By linking data from the Swedish Medical Birth Register with the Hospital Discharge Register and the Prescribed Drug Register, the team was able to identify mothers who took acid-blocking medicines during pregnancy. “We also used the registries to identify children who were hospitalized for allergic disorders or received a prescription for allergies, and then traced them back to their mothers,” stated lead researcher Elizabeth Hait.

The team analyzed data from more than 585,000 children born between 1995 and 2004. Overall, about 5,600 children (just under 1 percent) had been exposed to acid-suppression therapy during their mother’s pregnancy, and more than 29,000 (5 percent) had a discharge diagnosis of allergy or prescriptions for allergy medications by 2006. Maternal use of acid-suppressive medicines was associated with a 43 percent greater likelihood that a child would be hospitalized or receive prescriptions for allergic conditions. Asthma was the most commonly reported condition; maternal use of acid-suppressive medications increased its likelihood by 51 percent.

Acid-suppressing medication is commonly used for acid reflux, or heartburn. Reflux occurs in up to 85 percent of pregnancies, as high levels of estrogen are thought to weaken the lower esophageal sphincter.

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PHARMACY

CVS Caremark expands H1N1 vaccinations to more locations

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. CVS Caremark is now providing H1N1 flu vaccinations at select CVS/pharmacy locations in Alabama, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Pennsylvania and New York, as well at MinuteClinic locations in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

The eight states are among many that have lifted priority group restrictions, allowing all patients to be eligible to receive the shot while supplies last.

“Our customers depend on CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic for their health care needs, so we are pleased to be able to expand H1N1 vaccine availability to these additional states,” stated Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., chief medical officer of CVS Caremark. “H1N1 flu is currently active in many communities across the country and it is likely that we will see increased flu activity, as is typically the case, in January and February.”

CVS Caremark continues to expand the availability of H1N1 vaccine in its stores and retail health clinics across the country and the vaccine now is available in 28 states and Washington, DC at either CVS/pharmacy or at MinuteClinic.

H1N1 vaccine is being offered at:

  • Select CVS/pharmacy locations in Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii (Longs Drugs stores), Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
  • MinuteClinic locations in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

The cost of the H1N1 flu vaccination shot at CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic is a $15 administration fee, which may be covered by insurance.

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Giant Food launches free antibiotic prescription program

BY Antoinette Alexander

LANDOVER, Md. Giant Food is launching a free antibiotic prescription program that will run from Jan. 2 to March 21 in all Giant pharmacies.

The program covers 36 generic antibiotics in nine basic categories. The retailer is supporting the program with television ads, physician outreach, in-store communication and an expanded Web presence.

“Free antibiotics is the latest good news our pharmacies are offering the public,” stated Andrea Astrachan, consumer advisor for Giant Food. “We also offer up to a 90-day supply on over 350 commonly prescribed generic drugs for only $9.99.”

The company operates 182 supermarkets in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia. Within its 182 stores, 163 have full service pharmacies.

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