PHARMACY

Drug Store News’ Retail Clinician launches debut Retail Clinician Family Health Edition with support from McNeil Consumer Healthcare

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK Retail Clinician publishes, this month, a bonus edition of its quarterly magazine with an issue focused on the self- care revolution. This Special Issue was developed with support from McNeil Consumer Healthcare, the producer of some of the most well-known and trusted OTC brands including TYLENOL, BENADRYL, SUDAFED and ZYRTEC.

In-store healthcare professionals say that they recommend an OTC to more than 58 percent of their patients, according to the third annual Retail Clinician Reader’s Survey. Furthermore, 92 percent of those surveyed say that that they want more information on self-care treatment options.

“Over-the-counter medicines play almost an equal role to prescription drugs when it comes to what’s inside the toolkit of the in-store healthcare provider, “explains Rob Eder, Retail Clinician Editor in Chief. “We are proud to present our first-ever Retail Clinician Family Health edition, a special bonus for Retail Clinician readers, with a special emphasis on helping practitioners better understand the proper role and usage of OTC medicines and where they fit in the in-store practice.”

The October Special Edition includes feature stories on:

  •  Self-care health management strategies
  •  Differences between the common cold and fall allergies
  •  The ABCs of Health Saving and Flexible Savings Accounts
  •  A how-to on minimizing the impact and costs of the cold and flu season

The support of McNeil Consumer Healthcare underscores their strong commitment to helping in-store healthcare providers provide high quality, cost-effective and convenient health care for busy individuals and families. “We are proud to support the Family Health Supplement of Retail Clinician and look forward to continuing to help practitioners educate patients,” said Edwin K. Kuffner, MD Senior director, Medical Affairs for McNeil Consumer Healthcare.

With this Special Edition of Retail Clinician, parent publication Drug Store News re-enforces its dedication to coverage of this emerging retail format and its promise to foster dialog in the industry. “Every issue of Retail Clinician and specifically this Special Family Health Edition presents an opportunity for suppliers and in-store health professionals to exchange ideas and devise strategies that will result in a quality healthcare offering for American families. We are proud of the role that we play in furthering these discussions,” said John Kenlon Group Publisher.

About Retail Clinician

Retail Clinician, launched in 2006, is the only publication that is dedicated to informing in-store healthcare providers practicing in the convenient care clinic environment and the headquarter level executives that are making strategic decisions concerning the clinics. The magazine is distributed to 9000 industry influentials including retail based nurse practitioners, clinic management and chain pharmacy decision makers.

About Drug Store News

Drug Store News has been the voice of the retail drug industry for more than seven decades. Forty thousand industry professionals read its flagship magazine for its timely coverage of industry news, merchandising trends and pharmacy developments. Its authoritative articles and studies provide extensive coverage of every major segment of chain drug retailing and combination stores, keeping it number one in readership.

For more information go to www.drugstorenews.com.

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Congressmen call for more thorough review of direct-to-consumer drug advertising

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON Investigating direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription pharmaceutical products, Reps. Bart Stupak and John Dingell, Democrats of Michigan, sent letters Tuesday to companies and government agencies involved.

“We have serious concerns that the leading pharmaceutical companies do not share our commitment to providing consumers with accurate information about drug therapies,” Dingell said in a statement. “As certain drug companies place corporate profits above patient health, it appears they are even willing to ignore FDA recommendations.”

The letters went to FDA commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach, Shaw Science Partners president and EthicAd executive director Michael Shaw, Bayer HealthCare president Gary Balkema and Health and Human Services secretary Michael Leavitt.

In their letter to von Eschenbach, the lawmakers questioned the development of an FDA DTC Web site, “Be Smart About Prescription Drug Advertising: What You Should Know about Prescription Drug Advertisements,” which gives examples of proper and improper DTC ads. A news report showed that the developer of the site as EthicAd, a non-profit organization started by Shaw Science Partners, a public relations firm for the pharmaceutical industry.

According to its Web site, Shaw has worked on the launch of more than 30 drugs, including Johnson & Johnson’s Procrit, which was removed from the market due to safety problems.

“It’s shameful that consumers have to rely on the oversight function of Congress to make sure drug companies tell the truth in their ad campaigns,” Stupak said in the statement.

Letter to the FDA:

http://energycommerce.house.gov/Press_110/110_OI_101408.DTCFDA.pdf

Letter to Shaw Science Partners:

http://energycommerce.house.gov/Press_110/110_OI.101408.DTCShaw.pdf

Letter to EthicAd:

http://energycommerce.house.gov/Press_110/110_OI_101408.DTCEthicAd.pdf

Letter to HHS:

http://energycommerce.house.gov/Press_110/110_OI.101408.DTCHHS.pdf

Letter to Bayer HealthCare:

http://energycommerce.house.gov/Press_110/110_OI.101408.DTCBayer.pdf

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As election nears finale, legislative goals remain

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON As the 2008 presidential election nears its dramatic finale, pharmacy advocates are still pushing for passage in the waning days of the 110th Congress of key legislation to advance their interests, or awaiting a signature from President Bush on bills that have already reached his desk.

Retail pharmacy’s signature victory in 2008 was the enactment in July—over the President’s veto—of the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008, or H.R. 6331, which delayed implementation of Medicaid prescription reimbursement cuts, ensured prompt payment of Medicare prescription claims, postponed adoption of burdensome competitive bidding procedures for durable medical equipment under Medicare Part B, and promoted faster adoption of electronic prescribing. But in recent weeks, lawmakers have handed pharmacy a series of smaller victories and opened the door on new, pharmacy-friendly legislation.

One key win was Senate passage late last month of the House-Senate negotiated version of S. 3001, the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2009. The bill—which at press time was awaiting White House approval—includes an important provision to preserve pharmacy choice for TRICARE beneficiaries.

If signed into law, the bill would preserve the right of U.S. military members and their families to choose where they have their prescriptions filled with passage of a newly revised military spending bill.

The provision would extend the current freeze on increases to retail pharmacy co-payments, thus maintaining a level playing field for retail pharmacies vis-a-vis mail-order pharmacies. Chain and independent pharmacy advocates fought a long struggle to have that provision included in last year’s military spending bill and were buoyed by its inclusion in this year’s proposal.

Retail pharmacy groups also praised the Senate for its passage Sept. 30 of the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008. The bill, also expected to be signed by the president, would clamp down on the illegal sale, abuse and trafficking of prescription drugs over the Internet.

Passed in the House of Representatives Sept. 23, the online pharmacy bill would require a valid prescription for the purchase or distribution of any prescription drug over the Internet, issued by a prescribing physician or other qualified professional who has personally examined the patient. However, it would exempt remote-site pharmacies that operate under approved “tele-medicine” procedures.

“This landmark piece of legislation will bring rogue pharmacy operators out of the shadows by establishing a clear standard for legitimate online pharmaceutical sales,” said Michele Leonhart, acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration. The new law, she said, “will allow customers to know they are doing business with a trusted, legitimate pharmacy and give law enforcement the tools we need to identify illegitimate online pharmacies.”

Added Stephen Giroux, president of the National Community Pharmacists Association and an independent pharmacy owner in upstate New York, “There are just some services that should not be available online. This legislation to clamp down on illegal online operators is the first step in the right direction.”

With pharmacy’s support, the Senate also passed another bill last month to strengthen DEA oversight of illegal pharmaceutical activity. If signed into law, S. 1276, the Methamphetamine Production Prevention Act, would spur the adoption of methamphetamine precursor electronic logbook systems, thus providing law enforcement with easier access to information and streamlining record-keeping requirements for pharmacies. 

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores praised passage of the bill. “Senate passage of this legislation sends an important message that preventing the illegal production and abuse of methamphetamine is imperative to our nation’s well-being,” said NACDS president and chief executive officer Steven Anderson. “S. 1276 will help law enforcement efforts while also allowing increased efficiency in logging meth precursor sales. We encourage the House to join the Senate in passing this legislation so that it can be enacted into law.”

Another bill on independent pharmacy’s wish list is H.R. 6582, the Small Business Cooperative for Health Care Options to Improve Coverage for Employees [CHOICE] Act of 2008. The bill, introduced by U.S. House Small Business Committee chair Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., with support from both parties, is aimed at keeping smaller employers from falling prey to steadily rising health care and insurance costs.

The CHOICE bill has drawn vocal support from the National Community Pharmacists Association. It would set up private, voluntary purchasing cooperatives established under state insurance laws to provide excess claims insurance coverage to participating small businesses. The bill allows those employers to pool health risks over a larger number of insured plan participants, thus reducing costs and, ultimately, premiums.

H.R. 6582 also provides a refundable tax credit to small employers who purchase health insurance for their employees through the cooperative.

Retail pharmacy leaders are also lobbying heavily in favor of legislation to curb the alarming rise of organized retail crime, which drains $30 billion a year from retail businesses, according to NACDS. Congress is currently mulling at least three bills that would combat the problem: H.R. 6713, the “E-fencing Enforcement Act of 2008;” H.R. 6491, the “Organized Retail Crime Act of 2008;” and S. 3434, the “Combating Organized Retail Crime Act of 2008.”

Addressing the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security Sept. 22, Walgreens security expert Frank Muscato discussed the growing problem of organized retail theft and its impact on chain drugstores. “ORC is an extremely sophisticated and coordinated crime,” Muscato told the House panel. “It involves highly structured organizations and gangs that hire and control teams of thieves to steal merchandise in large quantities.

“The legislation currently being considered would make ORC a federal criminal offense, which would be extremely helpful in prosecuting more of these large, multi-jurisdictional cases,” Muscato added. “ORC is not garden variety shoplifting. It is organized crime and should be treated as such with stronger penalties and enforcement.”

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