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Chains expand offerings for diabetics

BY Drew Buono

The rampant rise of diabetes as one of the nation’s most acute healthcare problems is spurring an explosion in in-store services and product offerings among U.S. pharmacy operators.

With obesity levels rising and many Americans still avoiding exercise and good nutrition, adult-onset, Type 2 diabetes has become the fastest-growing epidemic in the United States. Worse, the disease is striking unprecedented numbers of children as junk food, video games and the elimination of recess and physical education in many schools combine to drive up rates of diabetes among the very young.

In response, virtually every drug store, supermarket and mass merchant pharmacy retailer offers some type of diabetes prevention, monitoring and/or patient education program for its customers. Those efforts yield tangible healthcare benefits. And with the average diabetic spending between $2,000 and $3,000 per year on prescription medicines and over-the-counter supplies to counter the disease and its effects, it’s no secret that a solid patient-care and merchandising effort on behalf of patients with the disease can also yield big financial dividends.

Here’s a look at some recent diabetes programs within community pharmacy:

Some Medicine Shoppe Pharmacies and Medicap Pharmacy stores have been offering Specialized Care Centers for Diabetes to patients who suffer from the chronic disease. The centers offer education and counseling from the pharmacist, as well as providing a special selection of products for people living with the disease.

Among the services offered by the two franchise pharmacy chains—both of which are divisions of Cardinal Health—are quarterly educational programs or support groups on topics affecting people with diabetes, and monthly downloads of blood-glucose meters. Consenting customers also can have the report sent to their physician free of charge.

The Specialized Care Centers also offer training on blood-glucose monitors and insulin pens, as well as informational materials from pharmaceutical manufacturers. In addition, those Medicine Shoppe and Medicap pharmacies also offer personalized, monthly counseling sessions with educational materials to assist in managing diabetes, whether Type 1 or Type 2. The pharmacies also partner with local experts and pharmaceutical manufacturers on many of these initiatives to help provide customers with the best information and care available, as well as the best assortment of diabetes-related products.

“Our pharmacies place a high value on personalized attention and customer care, and we’re experiencing tremendous momentum with our Specialized Care Centers, demonstrating the demand for this service and the passion our stores have for meeting the needs of customers with diabetes,” said Keith Cook, vice president of pharmacy solutions.

In addition, both franchise operations team up each year with the American Diabetes Association to offer free recipe cards for people with diabetes.

“Our Medicine Shoppe and Medicap Pharmacy pharmacists are dedicated to giving our customers with diabetes the advice, time and education they need to manage the disease, which includes providing educational materials like the free recipe cards,” said Chrissy Ellegood, director of diabetes care for Medicine Shoppe International.

Diabetes Shoppe, a program within Amerisource-Bergen’s Good Neighbor Pharmacies division, has launched a new Web site, livingwithoutlimits.diabetesshoppe.com. In addition to providing links to Web sites, which help an individual with diabetes obtain the most current information on managing his or her condition, the site includes an area where people can write their story about how diabetes has impacted them.

The stories feature people who are living with diabetes, as well as friends who have been inspired by others managing the condition. The Web site also follows the journeys of “Iron Andy” Holder, the GNP spokesman who is “Living Without Limits” and managing Type 1 diabetes as an Ironman competitor.

GNP’s Web site also will offer new releases with information vital to visitors, provide information about where to locate Diabetes Shoppes and provide links to Web sites dedicated to diabetes that will offer useful information to users.

H-E-B has partnered with a local elementary school to foster better nutritional choices and understanding of the benefits of healthy eating among second-graders. The program, called “Be a Healthy Buddy,” encourages good diet and exercise in diabetes and obesity prevention.

In line with the effort, representatives from H-E-B visit the school and distribute apples and other healthy snacks, as well as pedometers to encourage physical activity and a journal with which students can log the number of steps they take during the day.

Some Rite Aid stores in Orange County, Calif., pitched in to help host the first annual “Battle of the Badges,” a weight-loss contest among law-enforcement staff from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and the Santa Ana Police Department. The participants agreed to enter a 10-week program offered by Lindora Medical Clinic, which operates some of its clinics in select local Rite Aid locations.

“We hope that Battle of the Badges calls attention to the problems associated with being overweight, one of America’s most daunting health crises,” said Lindora president Cynthia Stamper Graff. “By participating in Battle of the Badges, we hope that they will inspire the rest of the community—an estimated 66 percent of whom are overweight—to become lean for life, thus reducing their chances of developing stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.”

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Sturken to celebrate his fifth year at Spartan by ringing NASDAQ bell

BY Michael Johnsen

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. Spartan Stores’ chairman and chief executive officer Craig Sturken is slated to ring the NASDAQ opening bell on March 3 in celebration of his fifth anniversary leading Spartan, the company announced Thursday.

 “It is an honor to ring the opening NASDAQ bell in celebration of our fifth successful year since transforming into a consumer-centric organization and refocusing our business on our core distribution and retail operations,” Sturken stated. “We have been in the grocery business for more than 90 years and this is our eighth year as a public company, which is marked by our ability to develop and execute successful business strategies in a highly competitive market.”

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Unilever to reorganize company structure

BY Antoinette Alexander

LONDON Unilever, whose brands include Axe, Sunsilk and Dove, has announced that it is restructuring the company and combining its home and personal care segment and food segment into a single category structure.

Ralph Kugler, president of home and personal care, will step down in May at the Annual General Meetings after 29 years of service. The roles of president of home and personal care and president of foods will be merged under the leadership of Vindi Banga, currently president of foods.

To reflect the company’s focus on growth in developing markets, Central and Eastern Europe will be managed within an enlarged region comprised of Asia, Africa and Central and Eastern Europe. Western Europe will become a standalone region.

In other moves, Kees van der Graaf will retire in May from the Unilever board and from his role as president of Europe after a 32-year career with Unilever.

Harish Manwani, currently president of Asia/Africa, will lead the new expanded region. Doug Baillie will serve as president of Western Europe, having previously served as chief executive officer of Hindustan Unilever.

“These measures build naturally on the changes of recent years and give us an organizational structure even better placed to advance our growth agenda. At the same time, I want to express my deep appreciation to Kees and Ralph for the significant contribution they have made over long and distinguished years,” stated Patrick Cescau, group chief executive.

In addition, James Lawrence, currently chief financial officer, will be proposed in May for election as an executive director of Unilever. This change will mean that the Unilever board will be comprised of two executive directors and 11 non-executives.

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