HEALTH

Elations distributing glucosamine and chondroitin beverage supplement

BY Michael Johnsen

CINCINNATI Elations on Wednesday announced new distribution of its glucosamine and chondroitin beverage supplement to more than 500 club stores in March, driving shipment volume for the month up by 65%, as compared with any single month throughout 2008.

“Elations continues to deliver what customers want and we’ve been receiving positive consumer feedback and testimonials to attest,” stated Mike Burton, Elations director of marketing. “That said, when our consumer asks, we listen. This year we are relaunching the product with an improved taste. We’ve also commissioned a clinical study with data that speaks to the efficacy of the product and how quickly relief can be felt. We will be announcing the results of that clinical with the introduction of the new formula in May.”

The supplier attributed the strong growth in part to a television campaign coupled with digital media and sampling programs. The convenience messaging communicated through these mediums, pitting Elations’ once-daily liquid format vs. the hassle of taking multiple pills, is resonating with baby boomers, the company stated.

Elations is currently available in raspberry white grape and cranberry apple flavors for a suggested retail price as high as $8.49 for a six-pack.

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Icy Hot maker Chattem feels the economic slump

BY Michael Johnsen

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. The economy is taking its toll on consumer-packaged goods manufacturers, as inventory cut-backs and retail and increased promotional spending prove to be a drag on earnings.

“While total revenues in the first quarter were lower than expected, we remain confident about the strength of our brands and our prospects for the balance of fiscal 2009,” stated Zan Guerry, Chattem chairman and CEO, in announcing the company’s first quarter results for the period ended Feb. 28. “Retail sales of our existing brands as measured by A.C. Nielsen and mass merchandiser point-of-sale data, excluding the discontinued Icy Hot Heat Therapy and Icy Hot Pro Therapy, increased by approximately 5% and 6% for the four and thirteen weeks ending March 21, 2009, respectively.”

Chattem reported that total revenues for the first quarter of fiscal 2009 were $116.1 million, representing a 3.9% decrease. The decrease in total revenues was due primarily to a $4.3 million reduction in international revenues, the company reported, but the balance of the decrease was related to lower sales of Icy Hot, Selsun, Bullfrog and Dexatrim, “caused in part by the timing of shipments, reduced retail inventory levels and two fewer shipping days in the first quarter of fiscal 2009,” the company stated.

The recall last year of the air-activated, self-heating Icy Hot Heat Therapy patch product was also a factor, Chattem noted.

Also adversely impacting Chattem total revenues was an increase in promotional programs that are recorded as a reduction of revenue rather than as advertising and promotion expense, the company added.

Advertising and promotion expense in the first quarter of fiscal 2009 decreased by $5.9 million to $28.6 million, or 24.6% as a percentage of total revenues as compared with 28.6% of total revenues in the prior year quarter. A&P expense was lower for the first quarter of fiscal 2009 due in part to an increase in promotion programs utilized by retailers that were recorded as a reduction of revenue rather than A&P expense and price efficiencies realized on certain media purchases.

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Illinois files TRO against state officials’ enforcement of 2005 regulation

BY Michael Johnsen

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. Less than one month after a district judge in New York ordered the Food and Drug Administration to allow women under the age of 18 to purchase Plan B without a prescription within 30 days, the Circuit Court in Springfield, Ill. on Friday issued a temporary restraining order against the Governor of Illinois and other state officials, ordering them not to enforce a 2005 administrative regulation that required all pharmacies to dispense Plan B and other forms of abortion-producing drugs.

The two issues are not necessarily linked — Plan B remains one of the only over-the-counter medicines approved with a dual Rx/OTC status for the same ingredient at the same strength for the same indication. Plan B is currently available without a prescription for women over the age of 18, but available only with a prescription for women under the age of 18.

The New York ruling changes that.

The Illinois court reverses a standing order from then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, which mandated pharmacists to dispense Plan B without regard to any personal beliefs that Plan B is an abortion agent. While technically Plan B prevents conception when taken within 72 hours of sexual activity, as opposed to aborting a pregnancy, several religious groups consider Plan B an abortive agent.

Many pharmacy groups, including the American Pharmacists Association, support “refuse and refer” policies, whereby an objecting pharmacist can refuse to fill a prescription based upon their personal belief system, so long as they refer that prescription either to another pharmacist or to another pharmacy.

“This is yet another step on the road to full protection for the rights of conscience of all health care workers,” stated Francis Manion, senior counsel for the American Center for Law & Justice. “In ruling in favor of our clients, the court rejected the attempt of Illinois officials to trample on the rights of our clients and disregard existing laws passed by the legislature for the very purpose of protecting those rights. We will continue to press this issue until we have obtained full protection for the conscience rights of these professionals who should not have to choose between their deeply held religious beliefs and license revocation and other penalties.”

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