HEALTH

Drug Store News story covered by the ‘Howard Stern Show’

BY Rob Eder

NEW YORK — It appears that even the “King of All Media” Howard Stern gets his news from Drug Store News. Traffic on the site spiked earlier this month when a DrugStoreNews.com story made it into Stern sidekick Robin Quivers’ daily news rundown and was linked to the Stern Web page under the “It’s Time for Robin’s News” section in the rundown for the satellite radio program’s Thursday, Dec. 16 show (“Use lanolin on your cracked nipples” at HowardStern.com/rundown.hs).

The article, “Study: Lansinoh HPA Lanolin may reduce nipple pain among breast-feeding mothers,” focused on a recent study that found that women who breast-feed experienced a significant reduction in nipple pain and higher healing rates of nipple trauma when they used a topical application of Lansinoh’s HPA Lanolin.

Thousands of Stern fans, in addition to regular DSN Group online users, logged on to DrugStoreNews.com in the week that followed to learn more about Lansinoh’s study. As of Wednesday Dec. 29, the story remained the No. 1 most-viewed story on DrugStoreNews.com.

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Trojan to unveil new products at Consumer Electronic Show

BY DSN STAFF

PRINCETON, N.J. — In an unconventional move for a maker of consumer healthcare products, Church & Dwight’s Trojan condom brand will be a first-time exhibitor at the 2011 International Consumer Electronic Show. The company plans to use the highly publicized event to unveil a host of new products, including a multitip personal massager and “the new thinnest latex condom in brand history,” according to the company.

Why would a condom maker attend CES? To “provide an inside look at what goes into [its] personal technology product innovations and how [it] plans to revolutionize the pleasure industry,” the company noted.

“This is about innovations and making quality, safe pleasure-enhancing products,” said Jim Daniels, Trojan VP marketing.

Daniels, along with chief scientist and condom developer Dr. Michael Harrison, will represent the brand at CES. "Innovation in this category is critical," Harrison said. "At the show you’ll see ultra-thin TVs; tiny, solid, state-hard drives; and thousands of other innovations designed to improve the consumer experience. It’s a show dedicated to inventiveness, and that’s exactly why we’re here. We’ll be announcing a collection of new products in early January that we believe are every bit as innovative as some of the bigger consumer electronics announcements — and certainly as important."

Trojan will exhibit as part of the Digital Health Showcase at CES, which will be held Jan. 6 to 9, 2011, at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

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New IRS guidance allows continued use of FSA/HRA debit cards to pay for OTCs

BY Rob Eder

WASHINGTON — Though most might associate the Internal Revenue Service with the Grinch, the IRS came through with a last-minute Christmas present for retailers stung by changes in the tax code related to consumers’ use of flexible spending and health reimbursement accounts to purchase approved OTC products.

The new guidance, issued Dec. 23, enables consumers to continue using FSA and HRA debit cards to pay for prescribed OTC products. The move comes as particularly good news to pharmacy retailers, most of which — more than 90% of the industry — had invested millions of dollars to convert POS systems in recent years to accept the special FSA and HRA debit cards.

In line with the Affordable Care Act, as of Jan. 1, 2011, consumers enrolled in FSA and HRA programs no longer can use those tax-exempt dollars to pay for OTC purchases without a written prescription. While retailer POS systems still could physically accept the cards, there was no way for those systems to identify an actual prescription drug purchase from a prescribed OTC.

According to the new guidance, which becomes effective after Jan. 15, 2011, “this use of debit cards must comply with procedures reflecting those that pharmacies currently follow when selling prescribed medicines or drugs. The procedures include requirements that a prescription for the medication be presented to the pharmacy or the mail-order or Web-based vendor that dispenses the medication and that proper records be retained,” the IRS noted.

While the new guidance on debit card usage comes as some good news to pharmacy retailers and consumers enrolled in FSA and HRA programs, many continue to rail against the basic tax code changes for OTCs and FSA/HRA programs. Opponents believe the shift could have the opposite effect of lowering the cost of health care, adding hundreds of millions of dollars in additional costs for otherwise unnecessary primary care visits — to acquire prescriptions — and lost productivity due to rising presenteeism/absenteeism.

Still, the news that consumers will be able to continue to use their FSA/HRA debit cards to pay for prescribed OTCs comes at least as a partial victory for consumers and retailers who had been burned by the changes in the tax code.

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