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Co-promotions, awareness help charge up diagnostics

BY Michael Johnsen

Diagnostics ought to be a can’t-miss category, especially for pharmacy retailers, given the rush of baby boomers going into their sixties and accumulating membership into a pair of not-too-exclusive clubs—those with diabetes and those with hypertension. And while both diabetes and hypertension are more often associated with card-carrying members of the AARP, the fact of the matter is that the average age where either disease-state is first diagnosed is falling.

So, more older people at higher risk for these two disease states, coupled with the fact that more patients are being first diagnosed at a younger age, should spell success, right? Not necessarily.

Sales of blood glucose meters and supplies and of blood pressure monitors totaled $407.5 million across food, drug and mass outlets (minus Walmart) for the 52 weeks ended Aug. 9, according to Information Resources Inc. data, representing an 8.1% drop in sales. Outside of that, sales of blood pressure monitors are still very much on the upswing—$101.7 million in sales on growth of 22.7%.

The drop in diabetes sales, at least according to one supplier, is indicative of the commoditization of the category. Substantial points of differentiation of just a few years ago—alternate-site testing, smaller testing samples, no-coding and faster test results—are all costs of entry into the category today. And while the wireless tracking and tracing of a disease state through a patient’s online health home may represent future points of differentiation, that future still is a few years away, according to more than one industry executive.

To help recharge sales of such home diagnostics as blood-glucose meters, such companies as Home Diagnostics Inc. and Homedics have been partnering to help co-promote the diagnostics category and establish a synergy in the consumer’s mind. “[As much as] 70% of patients with diabetes have hypertension,” said Gregg Johnson, VP consumer healthcare at HDI. The reverse correlation is not as prevalent, Johnson said, though both disease states are linked to being overweight, which describes about 2-in-every-3 Americans.

And while partnering around joint marketing initiatives—point-of-purchase displays, cross-couponing and joint FSIs—to reach that coveted patient who’s been diagnosed with both diabetes and hypertension is one objective, raising awareness around the two disease states beyond shelf-adjacencies is another. “It’s almost like toothbrushes and toothpaste,” Johnson said; you buy one, and you probably ought to be buying the other.

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Late-stage clinical trial results: MS drug is effective

BY Alaric DeArment

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. Patients taking an investigational drug for multiple sclerosis fared better than those taking placebo, according to late-stage clinical results presented Friday at a neurology conference.

Avanir Pharmaceuticals said MS patients taking Zenvia (dextromethorphan and quinidine) in 30 mg/10 mg doses experienced a 11.9% greater reduction in pseudobulbar effect – an MS-related condition also known as PBA that causes sudden, uncontrollable episodes of laughter, crying and other emotional outbursts – than those taking placebo in a 12-week phase 3 trial, results of which the company presented at the 3rd World Congress on Controversies in Neurology in Prague, Czech Republic. Patients taking the 20 mg/10 mg dose did not do better than the placebo group.

“PBA represents an area of high, unmet medical need with no FDA-approved treatments currently available,” study presenter and trial steering committee member Daniel Wynn of the Consultants in Neurology Multiple Sclerosis Center stated. “Although the involuntary emotional outbursts of PBA cause considerable impairment for millions of individuals in the United States, it is under-recognized and commonly misdiagnosed.”

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New report projects 12.6% increase of probiotics market

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK The two takeaways from this story are “the [U.S.] market is expected to grow at a rate of almost 14%” and “the early movers in the industry will benefit in terms of market share.”

 

That about describes the opportunity in a probiotic nutshell.

 

 

The rising interest in probiotics can be credited in part to Dannon’s Activia brand, a line of yogurts and yogurt drinks, which has been heavily advertised to the American consumer with the message that not all bacteria is bad for you — and in fact some bacteria taken on a regular basis can impart some pretty significant health benefits. That advertising message — that probiotics can be an important piece in a healthier-for-you diet — has been all the more reinforced as Bayer supports its probiotic Phillips Colon Health, and as Procter & Gamble rolls out its Align probiotic.

 

 

And the consumers already are core drug store shoppers. The ratio of women to men in search of a product delivering digestive benefits is about 2-to-1, according to industry experts. When women hit their 30s and 40s, that’s the point in their lives when they’re looking for a strategy in life to help them manage their digestive issues.

 

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