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CHPA promotes cough-cold awareness with comprehensive ‘Treat with Care’ program

BY Michael Johnsen

NAPLES, Fla. —The big issue addressed by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association last month at its 2009 Annual Executive Conference was, without surprise, the economy.

“Much has changed since we met last year in Washington, D.C.,” Linda Suydam, CHPA president, opened in her annual state of the association address. “The nation is in the midst of an economic downturn, the likes of which most of us in this room have never experienced.”

But as challenging as the economy may be, “American consumers are counting on this industry,” she said. “We are certain that millions of consumers look to us” for continued access to safe, effective and affordable health care.

To that end, CHPA has stepped up its efforts around reaffirming the safety and efficacy of pediatric cough-cold medicines. “We are honoring our commitment to address concerns and information gaps about these important products through solid science and responsible education,” Suydam said. For example, CHPA has been working, in conjunction with both the Food and Drug Administration and cough-cold experts, in the development of clinical trials that effectively would measure both subjective and objective common cold symptoms. “The goal of…this program is to conduct efficacy trials in children that satisfy contemporary, clinical research standards,” she said.

CHPA is coupling those scientific efforts with a comprehensive education program targeting concerned parents with information on appropriate cough-cold remedies for their children. The campaign, called Treat with Care, is “by far the biggest education initiative ever undertaken by this association,” Suydam said.

As part of the campaign, CHPA last fall featured actress Chandra Wilson of “Grey’s Anatomy” on a series of public service announcements on the safe use of children’s cough-cold medicines.

Specifically, the Treat with Care campaign advises parents and caregivers always to follow the label exactly and to use the measuring device that comes with the medicine; never to give medicine indicated only for adults to children; to keep in mind the ingredients of each medicine administered to a child to avoid overdosing; to keep medicines out of reach so that children cannot take them without adult supervision; and to keep the number of their physician or healthcare professional handy—don’t hesitate to call with questions.

Dextromethorphan abuse among teenagers continued to be another hot-button issue with CHPA, Suydam said. Last year, the association created the stopmedicineabuse.org site in an effort to educate both parents and teenagers around the dangers of DXM overdosing. That new Web site complements CHPA’s other educational outreach initiative, the Five Moms campaign, which to date has touched more than 24 million parents. “The results of [that outreach] are starting to show,” Suydam said. “Cough medicine abuse among teens has gone down, the perception of risk has gone up, and more and more parents are having conversations with their kids about the dangers of abusing cough medicines. As the leading experts have said, all of this is attributable to the work that this industry is doing,” Suydam added.

CHPA plans to make consumer education around the proper use of OTC medicines a core initiative in the coming years as well, Suydam said. “We are positioning OTCsafety.org as the preeminent home of OTC information…period,” Suydam said.

The association also is looking to continue its substantive efforts on Capitol Hill in the coming year, supporting such initiatives as more closely regulating the distribution of raw DXM, as well as lobbying for additional funds for the FDA. “As an industry, we…supported legislation that would help stop cough medicine abuse, ensure import safety and quality, combat methamphetamine abuse and provide favorable…treatment for OTCs,” Suydam said.

For example, late last month, the House of Representatives passed the Dextromethorphan Distribution Act of 2009, a bill introduced March 3 by Reps. Fred Upton, R-Mich., and Rick Larsen, D-Wash., to restrict the distribution, possession and sale of unfinished bulk dextromethorphan to those entities vetted and approved by the FDA. “We are working on making 2009 the year that we get this important legislation passed into law,” Suydam said. CHPA also is supportive of an age restriction on the sale of products containing DXM, Suydam added.

Following the conclusion of the annual meeting, Christopher DeWolf, president and CEO of Lil’ Drug Store Products assumed the top leadership role within the association. “CHPA is truly fortunate to have such a long history of competent and creative board of director chairs,” Suydam said, regarding the election of DeWolf. “[DeWolf] is just such an individual, and the association and the over-the-counter medicine and nutritional supplement industries we serve are privileged to have him at the helm, especially during these challenging times.”

DeWolf becomes CHPA’s 53rd chairman of the board, and succeeds John Hendrickson of Perrigo. DeWolf was first elected to the CHPA board in 2007 and has held the posts of both vice chair and chair of the association’s business development committee.

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Kroger to serve as exclusive supermarket sponsor of Fiesta Atlanta ’09

BY Allison Cerra

ATLANTA Kroger will serve as the exclusive supermarket sponsor of Fiesta Atlanta ’09, an outdoor Cinco de Mayo festival celebrating Latino culture, music and food.

Fiesta Atlanta ’09 takes place on Sunday, May 3 at Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta. For Kroger, the partnership represents the company’s commitment to the Hispanic community.

“We are very excited and looking forward to Fiesta Atlanta,” said Glynn Jenkins, director of communications and public relations for Kroger’s Atlanta Division. “Kroger has always made exceptional efforts to serve the Hispanic community and joining this celebration is another commitment to our Hispanic customers.”

Atlanta’s largest Hispanic outdoor family festival, Fiesta Atlanta attracted over 40,000 attendees last year. This year’s event will once again feature authentic food from many Latin-American countries, arts and crafts, sponsor displays with many free product samples and continuous live musical performances by national and local recording artists.

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AARP cites big jump in Rx prices

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK A report by AARP indicated that prices for branded drugs have increased at a rate outpacing the rate of inflation by more than six percentage points.

 

The report found that manufacturers’ prices for branded drugs increased by 9% last year, compared with the general inflation rate of 3.8%. Meanwhile, prices of generic drugs decreased, on average, by 10.6%.

 

 

Generic drugs have already grown significantly over the years, accounting for 69% of all prescriptions dispensed in the United States, but 16% of money spent on prescriptions, according to IMS Health. In 2007, according to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the average price of a generic prescription drug was $34.34, compared to $119.51 for a branded drug.

 

 

Price increases for branded drugs significantly higher than the overall rate of inflation, mixed with the recession, are likely to drive more consumers to generics. According to AARP, nearly a quarter of all older Americans skip medication doses because of the cost, while other studies have shown that many Americans facing economic hardship don’t have prescriptions filled at all.

 

 

At the same time, many branded pharmaceutical drugs – not to mention biologics – don’t yet have a generic version. This could create difficulties for elderly and other patients who may be able switch to medications that are cheaper, but different from what they take, or who take biologic drugs or newer drugs that have no equivalent on the market.

 

 

The Generic Pharmaceutical Association said the report indicated that generic medicines are “the right choice for better health.”

 

 

“During these difficult economic times, it is truly disturbing to hear reports that our nation’s seniors cannot afford their prescription drug costs,” GPhA president and CEO Kathleen Jaeger said in a statement responding to the report. “No one should be forced to choose between putting food on their table and paying for needed medicines.”

 

 

Jaeger also said the report illustrated the need for a regulatory pathway for biosimilars.

 

 

“It’s time to do right by our seniors and all Americans struggling with healthcare costs by approving legislation that brings safe, effective and affordable biogeneric medicines to patients sooner rather than later,” Jaeger said. “GPhA also strongly believes that increasing funding for FDA would ensure the more timely approval of generic medicines, increasing the opportunity for consumers to save immediately.”

 

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