PHARMACY

Weight Watchers, Merck develop lifestyle management approach to fight obesity

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK A weight management services provider and a drug maker are teaming up to fight obesity.

Weight Watchers and Merck will launch an initiative in which Merck will provide physicians and other healthcare providers with educational information about the Weight Watchers program and its underlying clinical evidence to assist doctors in addressing the ongoing weight-management needs of their patients, the companies said Wednesday. The initiative will be piloted in January, in which participating physicians and healthcare providers will receive educational materials to help them initiate more effective and efficient conversations about weight loss with their patients, increase awareness of obesity-related health risks and demonstrate how the Weight Watchers program may align with their goals to help patients attain and maintain a healthy weight.

"Our commitment to improving global health care goes beyond medicines and vaccines," said Jay Galeota, Merck’s SVP global human health, strategy and business development. "We hope this collaboration with Weight Watchers will enable us to provide physicians with a comprehensive solution they can offer their patients to help better manage weight."

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PHARMACY

Obesity costs U.S. employers billions, study finds

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK New research by Duke University found that obese workers cost U.S. employers $73.1 billion a year.

 

The researchers, led by Eric Finkelstein, deputy director for health services and systems research at Duke-National University of Singapore, used survey data from the 2006 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and the 2008 U.S. National Health and Wellness Survey to determine the extent to which obesity-related health problems affected absenteeism, work productivity and medical costs. Among those with a body mass index higher than 40, or roughly 100 lbs. overweight, these costs worked out to $16,900 per capita for women and $15,500 for men.

 

 

"Much work has already shown the high costs of obesity in medical expenditures and absenteeism, but our findings are the first to measure the incremental costs of presenteeism for obese individuals separately by body mass index and gender among full-time employees," Finkelstein said.

 

The study was published on Oct. 8 in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

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Jewel-Osco enters flu prevention game

BY Allison Cerra

ITASCA, Ill. Supervalu’s Jewel-Osco stores announced a flu prevention program with vaccinations available in all locations with a pharmacy.

Jewel-Osco said its pharmacists will offer the traditional flu vaccine, the needle-free FluMist nasal spray and the new high-dose Fluzone for patients older than 65 years, during regular pharmacy hours.

The flu vaccine is available for $26.99 for either the traditional injection or FluMist. Fluzone HD is available for $59.99. The cost of these vaccines is covered by Medicare Part B and many commercial health plans, which means that many customers may not be incurring additional costs.

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