Take Care Health Systems set to educate patients on swine flu
CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. Walgreens and Take Care Health Systems are prepared to educate patients and provide recommendations for individuals seeking information on swine flu, the pharmacy retailer and clinic operator announced Wednesday.
“Take Care Health Providers are up-to-date on the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and have relevant protocols for diagnosing and treating the swine flu,” stated Allan Khoury, chief medical offer for Take Care. “As with any patient health concern or question, providers are available to give information and education to patients at both our Take Care Clinics and employer on-site health and wellness centers and pharmacies across the country.”
A rapid flu test cannot diagnose the swine flu strain specifically, Take Care cautioned, but positive tests for Influenza A may suggest swine flu, as the normal flu season is nearly over. Take Care Health Providers will treat patients based on clinical symptoms and exposure risk and rapid flu testing does not usually change overall treatment plan.
“Take Care Clinics have seen patients inquiring about the swine flu, asking questions about symptoms and how to protect themselves and their family,” stated Sandra Ryan, chief nurse practitioner officer for Take Care Health Systems. “Nurse practitioners and physician assistants follow CDC recommendations to prescribe anti-viral medications based upon current symptoms, suspected or confirmed exposure to the swine flu, and/or an individual’s situation in regards to traveling to an area of a confirmed case.”
Take Care Health Systems is working collaboratively with its employer clients to assist in any potential pandemic planning and provide customized solutions to meet the company’s needs. In addition, Take Care Health Systems is coordinating with local health departments to track and monitor for potential swine flu cases.
Walgreens drug stores are prepared to meet increased demand for anti-viral medications including Tamiflu and Relenza. Stores are also well-stocked with the essentials for basic virus prevention including antibacterial hand soaps, hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, latex gloves, disinfectant cleaners and other supplies.
Pain-reliever removed from AAFES retailers
DALLAS Army & Air Force Exchange Service retailers are removing aspirin from their shelves per a Department of Defense mandate.
AAFES is removing the analgesic from its pain-reliever lineup in an effort to reduce blood loss in the event of an injury for those soldiers operating in combat zones.
According to the memorandum from the Assistant Secretary of Defense, aspirin in combat zones is to be controlled. Furthermore, the memo states that “there should be no over-the-counter access through AAFES outlets or other Morale, Welfare and Recreation activities.”
All personnel, military and civilian, deploying to a combat zone are advised to stop taking aspirin at least 10 days prior to departure, unless advised by their healthcare provider to continue use, AAFES stated.
Swine flu may increase demands for POC flu tests
NEW YORK The current situation with a possible swine flu pandemic may increase demand for rapid point-of-care flu tests, tests that would ascertain whether or not a person was ill with a traditional flu as opposed to the swine flu, market research publisher Kalorama asserted Monday.
“Although there is no marketed POC test specifically for the A/H1N1 [swine] strain at this point, it is likely common flu tests on the market will see increased usage,” stated Bruce Carlson, publisher of Kalorama Information. “Physicians will feel an urgency to determine if a patient simply has the more common flu, and given the circumstances, they may not want to wait for central lab testing. POC tests are also more effective when patients see the doctor earlier, as they are likely to do when they hear of the epidemic, or crisis.”
The influenza rapid testing market has morphed from an experimental area with a few products, into a considerable component of the entire point-of-care infectious disease market, which Kalorama Information values at over $500 million annually in its new report “World Markets for Point of Care Diagnostics.”
Quidel leads the market for influenza testing with its Rapid Vue product, a rapid chromatographic immunoassay which provides results in 10 minutes from a sample collected via a nose or throat swab. Competitors in influenza testing include Becton Dickinson’s Directigen EZ Flu A+B test, Inverness Medical’s Biax Now and Meridan Biosciences TRU FLU.
In a conference call held Tuesday, Becton Dickinson noted that there has not yet been any increase in demand for its influenza diagnostics.
“The type of products that you can expect to be potentially in higher demand [during a pandemic event], although we’re not necessarily seeing much of it yet, would be rapid flu tests where there’s already an increased demand as you might expect from Mexico,” stated Gary Cohen, BD EVP. “That’s not a large business for us but the demand is already going up. And also immunization devices that would accompany either injectable antivirals or immunizations for the flu strain as injectables are developed, as flu vaccine is developed around these strains.”
Prior to this weekend, point-of-care influenza diagnostics had not been doing well, Kalorama acknowledged.
“All of these companies reported first quarter test sales were down as the result of a weak flu season this winter. It’s probable that this outbreak will boost revenues for these companies, and the stock market has already reacted to this possibility,” the company stated.
Carlson added, “In a crisis atmosphere like this, the benefit of ‘knowing now’ that point-of-care provides is made clear. This could be an important showcase of the need for faster testing, and that is critical for the long-term success of POC testing products in all of infectious disease.”