PHARMACY

West Virginia to offer free prescriptions to uninsured

BY Drew Buono

CHARLESTON, W.Va. Gov. Joe Manchin has announced a new public-private partnership by which uninsured residents can get free prescription medication by mail, according to the Associated Press. The program, called West Virginia Rx, will be administered by Health Right free clinics and pharmaceutical companies will donate the medication.

Residents between the ages of 18 and 65 who have no insurance and with incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level can qualify for the program. For an individual, that’s $20,800; for a family of four, it’s $42,400.

One goal is to improve the state’s overall health while also saving on the soaring costs of providing health care to the uninsured, of which there are about 245,000 in West Virginia. Another 250,000 have health insurance but no prescription drug coverage.

Perry Bryant, executive director of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care praised West Virginia Rx, saying the program will get medicine to people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to get it.

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PHARMACY

Sugar may be helpful for those with diabetes and obesity

BY Diana Alickaj

BALTIMORE Researchers have found a new treatment that may be helpful in aiding those with diabetes and obesity, and it is most unusually a sugar.

The sugar is known as tagatose, which, according to published reports, is used in Europe to sweeten candy or orange juice. It is a naturally occurring version of fructose and is derived from the dairy byproduct whey. Tagatose has been shown to stop blood sugar spiking and is currently undergoing a one-year clinical trial to see if is, in fact, helpful in managing diabetes and weight-loss.

According to the American Diabetes Association, about 20.8 million people are diabetic and 9 out of 10 diabetics with Type 2 are overweight. Many researchers, such as Phillip Levin, an endocrinologist and director of diabetes center at Mercy, hope that tagatose can become a diet drug for patients experiencing obesity, one of the leading causes of diabetes. According to Levin, “Tagatose could be another tool for damage control. A lot of dealing with Type 2 diabetes is damage control.”

Other studies have shown that tagatose, if ingested before meals, would stop the rise in blood sugar, because it is absorbed poorly and therefore affects the way the sugar is stored. According to published reports, tagatose is said to be possibly the only diabetes drug that could raise good cholesterol and act as a cell-protecting antioxidant.

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FDA to take a closer look at Singulair

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON The Food and Drug Administration has warned health care professionals that it is investigating possible side effects in the asthma drug Singulair.

Possible side effects of the drug, a Merck product, include behavior/mood changes, suicidality and suicide.

The agency will need up to nine months to complete ongoing evaluations about the safety of the drug.

“Patients should not stop taking Singulair before talking to their doctor if they have questions about this new information,” the FDA said. “Until further information is available, healthcare professionals and caregivers should monitor patients taking Singulair for suicidality and changes in behavior and mood.”

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