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Bill aims to increase access, competition for generic drug makers

BY Antoinette Alexander

WASHINGTON D.C. — A bill has been introduced that lawmakers say would “close federal loopholes” and increase consumer access to generic drugs while boosting market competition.

Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, joined Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vermont, to introduce the Fair Access for Safe and Timely (FAST) Generics Act.



“We cannot afford to promote practices that hinder consumers’ abilities to obtain generic alternatives to expensive brand medicines. Our bill closes federal loopholes to ensure consumers have increased access to less costly generic drugs by increasing market competition and eliminating bureaucratic red tape.  This problem must be addressed to save the government and consumers billions of dollars while increasing pharmaceutical options for patients,” Stivers said.



According to Stivers and Welch, there are companies that abuse Food and Drug Administration drug safety programs by withholding access to drug samples for generic manufacturers, resulting in anticompetitive practices and increased pharmaceutical costs.



“Too many Americans, particularly seniors, cannot afford their prescription drugs,” Welch said. “This legislation will ensure that manufacturers of generic medicines can bring more affordable medicines to the market as quickly as possible.”  

The legislation was quick to draw praise from GPhA.

"This important bill introduced today by Congressmen Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Peter Welch (D-VT) promises to prevent unnecessary delays for patients waiting for generic choices and save billions for taxpayers, patients, and the federal government," said Ralph G. Neas, president and CEO, GPhA, in a statement. "These programs should be established for what Congress intended: keeping patients safe. Instead, some companies have adopted business strategies that deter competition under the guise of safety. This bill would put an end to that regrettable practice.”  

GPhA pointed to the findings of a study from Matrix Global Advisors, which indicate that the ongoing abuse of Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) and REMS-like programs to prevent generic competition is costing the American health care system and patients $5.4 billion in annual pharmaceutical spending that could be saved if the 40 drugs examined in the study were allowed to come to market as generics. GPhA noted that these efforts are particularly critical as the U.S. market prepares for the entry of biosimilars. In fact, the study identifies approximately $140 million in lost savings for every $1 billion in biologics sales.

The FAST Generics bill aims to counter these abuses by setting forth more explicit legal requirements and processes regarding the acquisition of product samples by generic and biosimilar developers, while putting safeguards in place to protect public health, GPhA stated.

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Social shopping, mobile commerce expected to drive holiday sales

BY Dan Berthiaume

SEATTLE — The retail industry is expected to benefit from mobile commerce, free shipping offers, in-store pickup promotions and e-commerce videos during the 2014 holiday season. According to global analytics and insights firm Blueocean Intelligence, the top six digital and social media trends that will drive sales for retailers in the upcoming holiday season are:
 
1. Visual content and interactions in holiday campaigns. Retailers across industries will entice their customers with high-quality audio and video. Video and image sharing will be dominant on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.
 
2. Social shopping becomes a reality. With the introduction of Twitter’s “buy” button and Facebook’s e-commerce integration, there will be a big push with social shopping. Many e-commerce giants are already piloting programs — a sign that mainstream adoption isn’t far away.
 
3. Retailers will spend more on social- and geo-targeted campaigns. Retailers will direct a significantly greater portion of their marketing budgets toward social, and especially around geo-targeting customers. Consumers can expect different offers by state and city.
 
4. Consumers will shop early. Customers don’t want to wait or only visit stores on select days, so they will take advantage of early offers that retailers push in October. As a result, retailers may eventually opt for guaranteed delivery cutoff dates closer to mid-December, rather than waiting until Christmas Eve.
 
5. Mobile commerce will experience a big turnaround. Mobile visits to e-commerce sites have boomed in recent years. For example, CVS Caremark encourages clients to refill prescriptions with an app. Kroger created an app that generates real-time offers and coupons. Home Depot has an app providing on-demand, real-time inventory and stock updates. Additionally, the newly released Amazon Fire phone and iPhone push consumers to shop via mobile devices.
 
6. Online retailers will use free shipping and in-store pickup incentives to drive more sales. A 2014 survey by UPS and ComScore found 81% of online shoppers believe free shipping is important. Complimentary in-store pickup has been found to be an effective promotion in recent years. Companies that actively communicate theses incentives via social and digital platforms have the potential to drive more sales this holiday.
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Smucker’s invites fans to ‘Spread a Little Sunshine’

BY Ryan Chavis

ORRVILLE, Ohio — Smucker's brand is utilizing a new photo promotion to celebrate the joy in making someone's day a bit brighter, no matter how small the act. Sharing these moments will let consumers win prizes each week, or win a $10,000 kitchen makeover. 
 
Participants can enter to the "Spread a Little Sunshine" promotion by uploading their photo via an entry form on Smuckers.com, Smucker's Facebook page, Iconosquare.com or by using the hashtag #SpreadALittleSunshine on Twitter or Instagram. The promotion will run from Sept. 17 through Oct. 15. For the complete rules, click here
 
The brand also will host a Twitter party on Oct. 1 at 9 p.m. with Mom It Forward, which will share Smucker's Natural Fruit Spreads recipe ideas. Twitter party participants will have a chance to win a gift basket full of Smucker's spreads, gardening tools and sunflower seeds, among other items. To join the festivities, conusmers should follow the brand on Twitter (@Smuckers) and Mom It Forward (@MomItForward) while using the hashtag #SpreadALittleSunshine.
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