HEALTH

Workable solution to meth epidemic right under authorities’ noses

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — That one of the latest attempts to require prescriptions for cough-cold remedies containing pseudoephedrine appears headed for failure isn’t just good news for the retailers that sell those products and the people who need them, it also may encourage those trying to curb the manufacture and use of methamphetamine to focus their efforts on methods that already work, such as the National Precursor Log Exchange, also known as NPLEx, a real-time, industry-funded electronic system that tracks sales of PSE products and is active in 17 states.

(THE NEWS: California Senate committee tables PSE Rx-only bill. For the full story, click here.)

Oregon and Mississippi already classify PSE as a prescription-only medication, and Drug Store News reported last month that North Carolina soon may follow. Authorities in these states have legitimate concerns: Meth is an extremely dangerous drug that destroys lives, families and communities. But the experience of many areas so far has indicated that efforts to make PSE prescription-only don’t just create inconvenience for people who actually need it to alleviate their cold and allergy symptoms; it also forces drug pushers simply to look for alternative sources.

In October 2011, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that sales of PSE drugs jumped by 81% in three St. Louis County, Mo., cities along the border of neighboring St. Charles County, which had made PSE prescription-only in August. While a spokesman for Walgreens told the Post-Dispatch the jump was the result of people buying PSE medications for legitimate purposes, local law enforcement officials said it was meth makers crossing the county line for easier access to their ingredients.

Whether the Walgreens spokesman, the local officials or both are correct, it shows that laws like this have a habit of spurring people who need PSE — for legitimate or illegitimate purposes — simply to sidestep the law and find a more convenient means of getting it.

By contrast, NPLEx appears more effective. According to a Consumer Healthcare Products Association report in October 2011, 47,866 sales of PSE products were blocked in first quarter 2011 in all the states with NPLEx, representing 4.1% of sales; in non-NPLEx states, 19,535 sales, or 1.4% of the total, were blocked. In September 2011, a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration showed that even as illegal drug use climbed between 2008 and 2010, meth use declined by 50%, a drop for which the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators credited NPLEx.

Lawmakers and other authorities who want to make PSE Rx-only should take a cue from Prohibition — far from stamping out alcohol, it simply drove Americans to get it illegally and helped create modern organized crime. That’s not to say that the experience of Prohibition will repeat itself, but it goes to show, as Sam Neill said in "Jurassic Park," nature always finds a way.

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HEALTH

Pharmaca launches weight management challenge

BY Michael Johnsen

BOULDER, Colo. — As part of the company’s "Renew You" events this year, Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy on Wednesday launched its first annual 30-day weight management challenge. The challenge features 10 participants, who will receive private consultations with Pharmaca practitioners around nutrition and exercise advice, and a one-month supply of one-of-three healthy weight management supplements — Natural Factors’ PGX, Genuine Health’s Lean+ Extra Strength or Natural Factors’ conjugated linoleic acid.

“These are some of my favorite weight-management supplements, products that our customers and practitioners have seen measurable results with,” stated Don Summerfield, Pharmaca VP integrative medicine. “By providing different supplements to our participants, we’re hoping to show which supplements work best for different body types and lifestyles.”

Participants already have met with their consulting practitioners for an initial weigh-in and consultation, Summerfield reported. These consultations will take place on a weekly basis, and participants will update followers on their progress at Pharmaca.com.

Learn more about the practitioners, the supplements and the challengers’ progress at Pharmaca.com/30daychallenge.


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MagnaCare partners with Telcare around dissemination of new, wireless meter

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — MagnaCare, a health plan management company, on Thursday announced its partnership with Telcare on that company’s new wireless-enabled blood glucose meter. Through this partnership, MagnaCare’s clients will be among the first in the country to receive the Telcare BGM meter.

The Telcare BGM automatically transmits readings to an Food and Drug Administration-cleared, privacy-secured online database that can be accessed via Web browser or smartphone apps by patients, physicians, caregivers or family members, as authorized by the patient, MagnaCare noted. The Telcare BGM transmits real-time access to readings, provides feedback and enables physicians and caregivers to intervene when blood glucose reaches dangerous levels.

"The biggest challenge in the treatment of diabetes is compliance, which, with a 10% improvement in glucose control, can reduce the incidence of complications by 37%," stated Jonathan Javitt, CEO and vice chairman of Telcare. "The Telcare BGM was developed to eliminate noncompliance and inconsistency in tracking numbers. Through the simplified dissemination of information that is usable and functional, this unique technology is truly impactful in terms of connecting provider to patient."

The Telcare product represents the first of a new generation of wireless medical devices, designed to connect people with chronic illness to caregivers, the companies stated. The result of a partnership between Telcare, and Qualcomm, manufacturer of many of the internal components of today’s cell phones, the product is being launched at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, where it is ranked as one of the semi-finalists in the famous "Last Gadget Standing" competition.

The Telcare BGM is paired with Telcare’s back-end clinical server and a suite of smartphone apps designed to provide comprehensive access to care. The server connects directly to electronic medical record systems, while the phone apps are used by family members.


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