Walgreen Co. plans to offer free blood glucose testing at its pharmacies and in-store health clinics starting at the end of this week, an initiative highlighted on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."


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Free glucose tests at Walgreens spotlighted on 'Oprah'

February 4th, 2010

DEERFIELD, Ill. – Walgreen Co. plans to offer free blood glucose testing at its pharmacies and in-store health clinics starting at the end of this week, an initiative highlighted on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

Plans call for Walgreens to begin offering the free tests on Friday at all of its 24-hour stores and Take Care clinics nationwide from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The drug chain said Thursday that free blood glucose testing events also will be held at select Walgreens stores in thousands of communities nationwide as well as at all 357 Take Care Clinics through Feb. 18.

Walgreens' free screening program was mentioned in a Thursday episode of Winfrey's show that examined the diabetes epidemic — which called the disease "America's silent killer" — and is featured on Oprah.com, the talk show host's web site.

A page on the Oprah site, titled "Walgreens' Free Blood Glucose Test Offer," provides information about the screenings and where to get one. It also has a link to a diabetes information and products page on Walgreens.com.

The pharmacy chain said the initiative marks the second time in four months that it has offered free blood glucose testing as part of an ongoing effort to stop diabetes and provide ready access to health care services. Tested patients who show signs of risk for diabetes are encouraged to follow up with their primary care provider.

In November, Walgreens held its first Diabetes Wellness Events, through which the company said more than 80,000 tests were administered. Over 25% of people screened at the events tested "at risk" for diabetes, the drug chain added.

"We're proud to offer these free blood glucose testing events as another means to heighten diabetes awareness and overall health and wellness," Kermit Crawford, executive vice president of pharmacy services at Walgreens, said in a statement. "We want everyone who's concerned about diabetes to be able to get tested. Through interaction with our pharmacists and Take Care nurse practitioners, and the many tools and resources Walgreens offers, we hope to improve the lives of those affected by diabetes or at risk for diabetes."

The free blood glucose screenings are being sponsored in part by Bayer HealthCare Diabetes Care and sanofi-aventis U.S., the retailer reported.

Walgreens cited some alarming statistics about the incidence of diabetes: The number of diabetes cases nationwide soared 90% over the past decade, and according to the American Diabetes Association an estimated 6 million Americans are unaware that they are living with the disease. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 24 million people in the United States have diabetes, and another 57 million have prediabetes. And according to the World Health Organization, diabetes is the fourth-leading cause of death globally.

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