WHO: Pregnant women infected with H1N1 virus experience fatal illnesses
GENEVA The World Health Organization on Friday stated that research — conducted in the United States and published July 29 in The Lancet — outlining increased risk of severe or fatal illness in pregnant women when infected with the H1N1 pandemic virus has been observed in several other countries experiencing widespread transmission of the virus.
Women are at particular risk during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. An increased risk of fetal death or spontaneous abortions in infected women has also been reported. Evidence from previous pandemics further supports the conclusion that pregnant women are at heightened risk, WHO added.
WHO strongly recommends that, in areas where infection with the H1N1 virus is widespread, pregnant women, and the clinicians treating them, be alert to symptoms of influenza-like illness. Treatment with the antiviral drug oseltamivir should be administered as soon as possible after symptom onset. As the benefits of oseltamivir are greatest when administered within 48 hours after symptom onset, clinicians should initiate treatment immediately and not wait for the results of laboratory tests.
WHO has further recommended that, when pandemic vaccines become available, health authorities should consider making pregnant women a priority group for immunization.
MinuteClinic inks deal with American CareSource
MinuteClinic’s partnership with ancillary care network services company American CareSource not only underscores the fact that the medical community is embracing the clinic model and encouraging use, but it also aims to help reduce healthcare insurance expenses for ACS members at a time when healthcare costs and reform are top of mind.
According to David Boone, CEO of ACS, a primary objective of the company is to provide clients, and ultimately the consumer, with more cost effective and convenient alternatives to hospital- and physician office-based services. Obviously, ACS understands the importance and value of the convenient care industry given that it selected CVS Caremark’s MinuteClinic business to help it meet that goal.
As previously reported by Drug Store News, a 2008 HealthPartners study found that care delivered in such retail-based medical clinics as MinuteClinic are between 32% and 35% less, compared with care delivered in physician offices and urgent care locations. That study which was one of the first to analyze cost and care in retail clinics, examined five of the most common conditions seen in MinuteClinics: sore throat, ear infections, sinus infections, pink eye and bladder and kidney infections.
Meanwhile, for the convenient care industry, news of the partnership between MinuteClinic and ACS is yet one more nod to the fact that the medical community is embracing the retail-based clinic model and understands the quality, affordable care that these clinics offer patients.
CDC: H1N1 virus expected to make a large impact on upcoming cough/cold/flu season
NEW YORK Today’s novel H1N1 news scare may very well turn out to be a “boy who cried SARS” scenario, in which all the news hype drives frenzied concern through the American consciousness but never culminates into a sharp rise in demand of products — antivirals, N-95 facemasks, hand sanitizers — potentially leaving suppliers and retailers with more inventory than they know what to do with.
That’s because for every report out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that suggests the sky may in fact soon be falling, those reports are hedged by acknowledgements that the H1N1 virus is just as likely to be innocuous as it is even more deadly.
To be sure, nobody can really predict a possible viral mutation — and whether that mutation will produce more severe or less severe illness — outside of the fact that the possibility for mutation exists. It’s got to be like predicting next week’s weather — which is 90% accurate only half the time.
But this we do know. The government is dedicating significant resources against any worse-case scenarios, including a CDC inclined to keep the public informed through regular press briefings. And unlike SARS, which generally got as close to American citizens as Canada but no further, the novel H1N1 virus continues to course through American communities even today, suggesting there will be an up tic in cases with the coming flu season.
That initial resumption of influenza-like illnesses coupled with regular CDC press briefings is likely to drive quite a bit of news coverage in the coming months, news coverage that will significantly drive awareness around the issue. And that suggests that many more Americans will be interested in flu vaccines this year, certainly more than the 40% of the recommended group who were inoculated last year. It also suggests that more and more Americans will be interested in taking CDC-recommended preventative measures such as using hand sanitizers (though demand around N-95 facemasks, which are not recommended for general use by CDC, may not be as great).
So retailers and suppliers should prepare for an interesting season, arming their healthcare professionals with information and stocking their shelves with the appropriate merchandise, because while nobody can predict whether the coming storm will produce scattered showers or fist-sized hail, you can rest assured something will be falling out of that sky.