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Walgreens partners with U.S. health agencies to combat heart disease

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Tuesday announced the kick-off of the Million Hearts Initiative, a public and private sector initiative to help prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over five years.

Walgreens will engage its more than 26,000 healthcare providers to support the Million Hearts prevention goal by providing blood-pressure testing, at no charge, in consultation with a Walgreens pharmacist or Take Care Health provider. In addition, Walgreens also plans to promote diabetes health testing in November and heart health in February, and make Million Hearts resources available at its 7,760 drug stores nationwide.

"We are pleased to partner with HHS, the CDC and CMS to help patients learn to live healthier lives while providing quality, accessible care," stated Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy, health and wellness. "Participation in this campaign is another example of the opportunity our pharmacists and Take Care Health providers have to drive positive health outcomes through their face-to-face interactions with patients."

For more information about the Million Hearts Initiative and its partners, visit Millionhearts.hhs.gov.

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Survey: Meth use down, thanks to services like NPLEx

BY Michael Johnsen

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Methamphetamine use is down by 50%, even as use of illicit drugs continued to climb between 2008 and 2010, according to a national survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that was released last week.

The number of current methamphetamine users decreased from 731,000 people ages 12 years and older (0.3% of the population) in 2006  to 353,000 (0.1%) in 2010.

"News that the number of methamphetamine users across the nation has declined so substantially demonstrates that the real-time, stop-sale system enacted in 19 states is working," the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators wrote in a press release issued Monday. The majority of those states employ the National Precursor Log Exchange, a real-time electronic logging system funded by industry that’s used by pharmacies and law enforcement to track sales of over-the-counter pseudoephedrine.

"With only two states having put in place prescription-only mandates, it is clear that electronic technology is stopping criminals from obtaining safe and effective medicines containing pseudoephedrine, which in turn is dramatically dropping the number of meth users," NADDI executive director Charles Cichon said.  "As state leaders consider policies that impact the access law-abiding citizens have to popular and reliable medications, they should consider this newly-released data as it validates that a common sense yet effective approach can be implemented to combat meth production and abuse."

Among the survey’s other findings was that the majority (55%) of persons ages 12 years and older who had nonmedically used prescription pain relievers in the past 12 months received them from a friend or relative for free. Only 4.4% of those misusing pain relievers in the past year reported getting their supply from a drug dealer, while 0.4% bought it on the Internet.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 22.6 million Americans ages 12 years or older overall (8.9% of the population) were current illicit drug users. The rate of use in 2010 was similar to the rate in 2009 (8.7%) but above the 2008 rate (8%).

An increased rate in the current use of marijuana seems to be one of the prime factors in the overall rise in illicit drug use, SAMHSA said.

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Survey: 27% of Americans to spend less during 2011 holiday season

BY Marianne Wilson

NEW YORK — More than a quarter of Americans expect to spend less during the holidays this year, according to a survey by American’s Research Group, Reuters reported.

About 27% of people surveyed said they planned to spend less this year, while about 55% expect to spend only as much as last year. The question was one of several exclusively asked for Reuters as part of a larger America’s Research Group survey.

More than half of those surveyed said they expected the economy to slow further before it recovers. Only about 18% of Americans plan to spend more this holiday season, down from 23% last year.

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