HEALTH

Family planning grows as births rise

BY Michael Johnsen

Birth rates are on the rise, according to the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of births increased by 1% to 4 million, marking the first increase in the number of births since 2007. The general fertility rate per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44 years in the United States also increased slightly by 1% in 2014, from 62.5 births to 62.9 births.

That’s good news for sellers of family planning test kits — overall sales of both pregnancy and ovulation test kits were up 2.2% to $364.8 million across total U.S. multi-outlets for the 52 weeks ended Sept. 6, according to IRI.

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The number of births for women in their late 30s was most pronounced, up 5%, continuing a trend that many families are choosing to have children later in life. The preliminary birth rate for women ages 30 to 34 years in 2014 was 100.8 births per 1,000 women, up 3% from the rate in 2013. The preliminary birth rate for women ages 40 to 44 years in 2014 was 10.6 births per 1,000 women, up 2% from 2013. Since 1982, the rate for women in their early 40s has generally risen.

Many of the new product launches focus on women who are planning to conceive. Last year, Prestige Brands’ family planning diagnostics brand e.p.t launched its Preconception Health Test, which measures vaginal acidity and indicates the presence of infections, so women can visit their doctor and seek treatment before trying to conceive.

And earlier this year, Church and Dwight launched its First Response Test and Confirm Ovulation Test, a combination kit that helps women who are trying to conceive track their ovulation with two different ways to detect and confirm their most fertile days. This kit includes 10 Daily Ovulation Tests and one Digital Ovulation Test, which features unmistakable YES+/NO- results.

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J&J, Wakefern program takes new approach

BY Michael Johnsen

A new, dynamic diabetes-centric set co-created by Johnson & Johnson and Wakefern has the potential to generate $1,000 in incremental dollars for every new diabetes customer captured by Wakerfern’s ShopRite stores, the companies revealed recently at the GMDC Health Beauty Wellness 2015 conference in Phoenix. And that growing niche consumer base represents a market basket five times larger than their nondiabetic peers.

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That’s real opportunity that goes well beyond the simple blocking and tackling of slotting inches into a planogram and clearing turn hurdles. “We used to think very different,” noted Chris Skyers, VP health and beauty care at Wakefern Food. “We looked at the portfolio, we had 700 items and we went year to year [determining] how to recycle events,” he said.

And the opportunity is in creating a bridge between those 700 items and the pharmacist.

“As we start to look at all these [health] trends and what they’re doing, and how it’s pushing people into new spaces, that’s where we all have a new opportunity to start to deliver differently,” added Chris Jobes, director of health and wellness at J&J. “Enter the era that’s being called the ‘consumerism of health care.’ So many changes are happening, we’re thinking about it differently.”

There’s a lot of benefit linking the pharmacist to the front end, Jobes said. “[As many as] 29% of people who engage with an in-store professional add an OTC to their basket. That’s step one,” he said. “But it also translates to the entire store — 59% have an incremental item in the basket.”

There are 29.1 million people with diabetes, and it’s a niche that’s growing fast. Currently, at least 1-out-of-3 people will develop diabetes in their lifetime. The cost associated with managing diabetes represents 7% of total U.S. healthcare costs, with $176 billion in direct costs.

“This work is helping us increase adherence, improve conversion, expand the market basket and set the stage for that engagement. Huge opportunity,” Jobes said.

“The healthcare landscape is drastically changing, with skyrocketing costs, and all of us have a great opportunity to drive the market differently, to change patient behavior for better health-and-wellness choices,” Jobes added. “The consumer patient is helping swing the pendulum. We can help them change behavior, change mentality and stimulate a better healthcare culture.”

“We must look at this new era holistically, in an environment that puts the patient and consumer first,” Skyers said. “We must find better ways to take care of our communities and rethink how retailers and wholesalers work in this new culture, and we must pull healthcare providers further into the loop.”

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OTC products aid in patient transition and independence

BY Michael Johnsen

Over-the-counter medicines can play a significant role in the transition of patients from hospital to home by helping to prevent infections and complications, as well as helping patients to remain adherent with their therapies.

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Beyond playing a role in the transition from hospital to home, OTC products, including home healthcare products, can help patients maintain their independence at home. “People are staying at home longer because it is so cost-prohibitive to be in a nursing home, to be in a managed care facility, to be in a hospital,” said Jeff Swain, VP marketing and product development at Carex Health Brands. “There’s a real opportunity both in that area, as well as people who are transitioning from a hospital stay to home.”

Retail pharmacy is often the first stop for patients on their way home from the hospital, suggesting pharmacists can play a critical role in helping transition those patients from one care setting to the other. “We believe the role of the pharmacist is extremely important for products like this,” said Kristin Harper, VP brand management and marketing at Cardinal Health. “They definitely provide a critical role in helping with that continuum of care.”

One-in-five patients are readmitted to the hospital within the first 30 days of discharge, according to a report to Congress from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. “What they found was that they were readmitted not for their initial diagnoses, but for problems that occurred in that acute care period — the first 10 to 15 days that they were discharged,” noted Kerri Miller, founder of Make People Better, which supplies a line of pre- and probiotic immune support products.

And many of those patients — both those being discharged by hospitals and those staying at home longer — are being cared for by another. Today, nearly 43.5 million Americans provide care to an adult, according to a recent report from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP.

In fact, many of the OTC products that will serve this need are purchased by caregivers. “Two-thirds of our products are purchased by caregivers,” Swain said. These caregivers are providing that care on top of working full-time jobs in many cases, he said, so they don’t have a lot of time to spend on product research. That makes shelf education and pharmacist intervention critical.

“By targeting not only the patient, but also the caregiver, we want to make life easier for them,” Harper said. “By providing hospital-quality products, it helps to remove that worry that they have: ‘Is this going to be the best care for my loved one?’”

There may even be an opportunity in creating a destination center for caregivers of patients either preparing for surgery or coming home from surgery, positioned adjacent to either first aid or durable medical equipment that contains advanced wound care, gloves for caregivers, incontinence products, as well as products designed to prevent infection or improve recovery.

Cardinal Health recently released a line of more than 165 home health products called Hospital Quality at Home — products designed to help caregivers make that transition from the hospital to home.

And Hibiclens, an antimicrobial cleanser recommended for use before surgery to prevent/reduce surgical site infections, MRSA or a Staphylococcus infection, may be another good fit. “Doctors often direct patients to shower [with an antimicrobial cleanser] prior to surgery and after surgery,” said Steve Sorci, key market manager, at U.S. Surgical Molnlycke Health Care. “A lot of times they don’t know where to look, so they go to the pharmacist.”

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