Wednesday, December 12, 2012

New cough and cold remedies now available for Canadians, offer options for children under six and those with compromised health

Sniffling noses get a new ally with Helixia™

TORONTO, December 11, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - For millions of Canadians ranging from the smallest tykes to our revered elders, cold season brings on a host of challenges when looking for a medication to help alleviate the predictable and uncomfortable symptoms of the common cold.

In 2009, Health Canada changed the cough and cold medication landscape dramatically when they required manufacturers to change the labels on over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold medicines to state they are no longer suitable for anyone under the age of six.

Those with compromised health often fare no better. For people living with conditions like diabetes, hypertension, or respiratory illnesses such as asthma and chronic lung disease, certain medicinal ingredients including pseudoephedrine (decongestant) and dextromethorphan (antitussive) can cause side effects or negative interactions with other medications, and are therefore not recommended in this population. These ingredients are found in the top 50 cold remedies.

The introduction of Helixia™ is expected to fill a significant need for Canadians, their physicians, as well as their pharmacists and other healthcare professionals, especially relevant in light of some of the recent drug shortages. Helixia™ is a new line of naturally-sourced, over-the-counter cough and sinus remedies. Of particular note for parents and those struggling with certain chronic conditions, Helixia™ Cough is appropriate for use by children under six as well as adults with certain medical conditions in whom common over-the-counter cough medications are not recommended or difficult to tolerate. Helixia™ Sinus is available for adults and adolescents 12 years of age and older.

Though only recently introduced in Canada, Helixia's efficacy is supported by several clinical studies and its formulations, including the medicinal ingredients Hedera Helix L (the dried ivy leaf extract found in Helixia™ Cough), and Eucalyptol (the eucalyptus oil extract found in Helixia™ Sinus), have been available and used in Europe for more than 20 years.

"We are proud to offer Canadian families a cough and cold remedy that has been trusted around the world for more than two decades", said Elise Vezina, vice president of Pendopharm, a division of Pharmascience Inc., distributors of Helixia™. "We are sensitive to the challenges in alleviating cold symptoms in children under six as well as in those whose added health conditions limit their treatment possibilities. We are confident that Helixia™ will be a welcome option."

By all indications, the availability of Helixia™ will come as a relief to parents of young children who have struggled to soothe their little ones for the past several years. "As a mother it's torture watching my two year old and five year old cough and sneeze and not be able to give them anything to make them feel better," said Jacynthe Audette.

"I see hundreds of patients every cold season and brace myself for the inevitable question 'What can I take to help me feel better?'" said Dr. Blais. "Until now, the only solutions I could offer for the vast majority of my patients were to rest, drink plenty of fluids, use a humidifier, or to take a smaller dose. With Helixia™, and the scientific studies that support its efficacy, I am comfortable recommending this option to many of my patients who have been virtually left to their own devices for the past few years."

Helixia is available at most pharmacies across the country. For more information, visit

About Helixia™

Helixia™ is a portfolio of naturally-sourced cough and cold natural health products.

Helixia™ Cough is used as an expectorant to help relieve coughing and loosen mucus and phlegm. It is made from dried ivy leaf extract, is non-drowsy, tastes like honey (although it contains no honey) and is free of sucrose*, gluten, dyes and alcohol, making it an option for all Canadians, as well as an excellent alternative for both small children and many health-compromised individuals.

Helixia Sinus helps relieve nasal symptoms of a cold, including stuffy nose, runny nose, dry nose and inflamed nose and also helps relieve sinus symptoms associated with acute sinusitis and a cold, including sinus pain and pressure, sinus headache, sinus congestion and runny nose. Helixia™ Sinus contains the medicinal ingredient Cineole (Eucalyptol extract).

About Pendopharm

Pendopharm is a rapidly growing specialty pharmaceutical company that is committed to commercializing a portfolio of specialty prescription (Rx) products as well as an established range of over-the-counter (OTC) and behind-the-counter (BTC) products. Dedicated to growth, it actively engages in licensing, developing and marketing late-stage prescription products as well as consumer brands. Its experienced team of people is dedicated to "going the extra mile" to support the medical community, partners and patients.

Pendopharm is a division of Pharmascience Inc., a Canadian privately-owned company. For more information about Pendopharm and its portfolio of products, visit

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario screening tool helps nurses identify abuse against women

TORONTO, December 4, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - More than 450 nurses and other health-care professionals will take part in a webcast this week to learn how to better identify and deal with signs of abuse/intimate partner violence in female patients. The event will take place in Toronto on Wednesday (December 5) on the eve of Canada's National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

Participants will be reviewing recommendations contained in a clinical practice guideline titled, Woman Abuse: Screening, Identification and Initial Response Best Practice Guideline, which was developed by the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) in 2005 and updated this year.

Kathleen Fitzgerald, one of the nurses who led the work on the guideline and its recent update, says the physical and emotional health consequences of violence are profound and enduring.

"RNAO's guideline provides nurses with evidence-based knowledge and strategies to help break the cycle of violence against women. Nurses are well-positioned to screen for potential abuse. They are accessible, they enjoy a high degree of public trust and work in a variety of settings where they interact with female patients,"

says Fitzgerald, who also sits on RNAO's board of directors and works as a sexual assault nurse at Lake of the Woods District Hospital in Kenora.

According to the federal government's latest statistics, out of 100,000 women aged 15 and over, 574 reported being victims of dating or spousal violence. The rate for women is four times greater than it is for men. The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women was established by parliament in 1991 to mark the anniversary of the Dec. 6, 1989 murder of 14 young women at I'Ecole Polytechnique de Montréal. They were killed because they were women.

The RNAO guideline provides recommendations, strategies, and resources for nurses and other health-care professionals to encourage routine universal screening for all women and girls. The guideline contains a questionnaire to help nurses assess if female patients are suffering from abuse and, if so, how severely. For instance, one question asks if you have been kicked, hit, slapped, or physically hurt by your partner or ex-partner within the past year. Another question asks if you have been raped or forced to have any kind of sexual activity by your partner or ex-partner within the past year.

Among the recommendations laid out in the guideline:

...Routine universal screening should be implemented in all health-care settings for all females, ages 12 and older.

...Nurses should foster an environment that encourages women and girls to open up about abuse.

...Nurses should develop screening strategies that reflect the needs of all women taking into account differences based on culture, race, ethnicity, class, religious/spiritual beliefs, age, and/or sexual orientation.

...Nurses should know their legal obligations when a woman/girl reveals she is or was abused.

...All nursing school curricula should incorporate content on abuse against women.

RNAO's Best Practice Guidelines Program is funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and was launched in 1999 to provide the best available evidence for patient care across a wide range of health-care settings. The 50 guidelines developed to date are a substantive contribution towards building excellence in Ontario's health-care system. They are available to nurses and other health-care professionals across Canada.

The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses' contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.

For more information about RNAO or to learn more about this guideline, visit our website at You can also check out our Facebook page at and follow us on Twitter at

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Food Bank Use Hits Record High in Ontario Over 412,000 Ontarians accessing Food Banks every month.

TORONTO, December 3, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - A new report released today by the Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB) revealed alarming new data: food bank use in Ontario has hit an all-time high, with over 412,000 Ontarians accessing food support and hunger-relief programs every month.

"The face of hunger is changing," says Bill Laidlaw, Executive Director of the OAFB. "The largest group of food bank users are children, with 160,000 kids accessing food banks monthly. What's more, some of the largest growing groups of food bank users are single parent households, the working poor, senior citizens, university students, and recent graduates."

There are many issues that have contributed to this spike in food bank use, which is up from 395,000 in 2011 and 374,000 during the 2008 recession.

"The challenges we've had in agriculture this year, rising food and living costs, the flooding in Northern Ontario, plant closures and layoffs, and funding cuts to social assistance programs have all played a role in the increased need for food assistance," says Laidlaw.

Details of the report's findings include:

...412,998 individuals, including 159,918 children, accessed Ontario's food banks in March 2012 alone

...174,618 households accessed food banks, this year, for the first time in their lives

...19% of food banks in Ontario do not have adequate supplies to address the growing need in their community

The Ontario Association of Food Banks is continuing to pursue the recommendations for change that it made in its 2011 Hunger Report, including: increased access to affordable healthy food, advocating for a housing benefit for low income individuals, a tax credit for farmers, and a push for the Ontario government to address the root causes of hunger by implementing policy changes that will lead to long-term sustainable solutions, and ultimately make food banks unnecessary.

"Every day there are children going to school without breakfast, adults working through the day without lunch, and seniors going to bed without dinner, simply because they cannot afford food to eat," says Laidlaw. "It is our hope that you will help us by speaking to your local MPPs and asking them to put hunger on the agenda, as well as by supporting your local food bank. In this province, and in this country, hunger and access to healthy food should not be an issue."

The Ontario Hunger Report is a compilation of data collected through the annual HungerCount report of Food Banks Canada. The full report is available online at

About Ontario Association of Food Banks

The Ontario Association of Food Banks (OAFB) is a network of 120 food banks and over 1,100 hunger relief programs and agencies across the province. Together, we serve 412,000 individuals, including 160,000 children, every month. The OAFB is committed to reducing hunger through sustainable solutions that ensure the long-term health and success of communities across the province.