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FDA considers new rules for kids

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON —Pharmacy retailers can expect parents to be even more confused about what to give their sick kids this year during cold and flu season. The confusion follows an Oct. 2 Food and Drug Administration hearing on the appropriate use of pediatric OTC cough-cold remedies, followed closely by a move among makers of these medicines to issue new package labels to alert parents that the products are not for use in children under 4 years old.

Run the numbers and it leaves one huge hole in the market. The more than 20 million U.S. children under age 6 are expected to suffer, on average, three to eight colds this year, multiplying the opportunities for pharmacy retailers to help mom find alternative remedies.

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association earlier this month announced that its members have initiated a voluntary label change to advise parents that use of the medicines is not advisable in children under age 4. As of press time, many products with new labels already had begun to ship to retailers.

Makers of these products insist that it is not the safety of these products but rather how people use them that is the real issue. “Research shows that dosing errors and accidental ingestions—not the safety of the ingredients themselves when properly dosed—are the leading causes of rare adverse events in young children,” explained Linda Suydam, president of CHPA. “As a result, the leading manufacturers of oral OTC pediatric cough-cold medicines are moving forward on both the design and implementation of initiatives aimed at encouraging the appropriate use of these medicines.”

In addition, CHPA manufacturers voluntarily are adding language that warns parents not to use antihistamines to sedate or make their child sleepy, and the organization also has expanded its national education program on the appropriate dosing and use of OTC medicines in children.

Meanwhile, CHPA continues to back pediatric pharmacokinetic and efficacy studies on the seven most common monographed cough-cold ingredients. Together with pseudoephedrine, which already is backed by PK studies, those eight ingredients represent approximately 95 percent of the OTC products for children on the market, Suydam said.

Those closest to the situation have told Drug Store News it is unlikely that any action by the FDA could occur before the end of 2010, as any proposed change to the respective monographs would be followed by a comment period before any rule change. By that time, the CHPA studies could very well be complete, providing proof of the safety and efficacy of these medicines in a clinical setting.

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Battery makers upgrade power sources, get more shelf space

BY Mike Duff

LOS ANGELES and ST. LOUIS, Mo. As new products keep rolling in from major battery brand manufacturers, retailers are updating their marketing to maximize the potential of increasingly specific product functions.

On Aug. 18, Energizer announced the launch of its new Advanced Lithium battery, one designed to reliably power wireless gaming accessories, digital cameras, hand-held games or MP3 players.

Five weeks earlier, Panasonic introduced the EVOLTA battery, which it characterized as the world’s longest lasting AA alkaline battery cell in more devices. EVOLTA represents a certain resistance to battery specialization. “We see the trend in batteries going toward more ‘middle-drain’ applications as the reduction in power consumption needs of appliances has resulted in less high-drain devices needing primary battery power. EVOLTA eliminates the confusion for consumers and gives them confidence that our battery will perform well across many applications,” said Matt Sora, vice president of sales and marketing.

While others keyed on batteries, Duracell focused on the kind of line extensions. Among the new products debuted was Duracell Daylite, the cornerstone of new flashlight line designed to take LED lighting to the next level, the company stated, by capturing and using 100 of the light generated versus 70 percent in more typical instances. The flashlight introduction came hard on the heels of the debut of Duracell’s My Pocket Charger and the PowerSource Mini, which were developed to complement cell phones, BlackBerrys and MP3 players.

Ultimately, said Duracell spokesman Kurt Iverson, battery producers are bringing technology to bear in developing more effective, longer lasting products that use innovation to provide power more efficiently. “In the case of the Daylite flashlight, it’s getting a product to work using less battery power and still produce a brighter beam of light,” he said.

The involvement of major battery brands in a range of portable energy dependent items certainly is stretching traditional brand boundaries and merchandising concepts as well.

Jacqueline Burwitz, spokeswoman for Energizer said that, while the brand remains the one that keeps on going and going, the company’s merchandising support has evolved with its product line. “It has changed. Now it’s a matter of pairing the right battery with the right device,” she said.

Battery makers have encouraged many retailers to create ancillary product display spaces that complement the products they power, but drug chains haven’t necessarily bitten, as many prefer to depend on a battery center merchandising program. “We have those sections,” said Stacy Rinehart, a USA Drug spokeswoman. “We have our batteries in those displays.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that drug chains aren’t changing to the existing market.

Rather than develop secondary displays, Walgreens focuses on appropriately expanding its battery centers to make it easier to shop for specific applications, said Robert Elfinger, a company spokesman. 

“The battery section has grown significantly,” he said. “Customers are starting to understand that high-draining devices such as digital cameras are getting specific batteries, and they are looking for some of the new high-tech batteries. We’re expanding the battery sections to accommodate them.”

Thus, drug chains, for the most part, feel as if a battery center, usually conspicuously positioned, makes sense in terms of both attracting customers and return from floor space, as it can keep pace with developments in the category if properly configured to changes in the market.

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Survey says 40 percent of shoppers plan to start holiday gift-shopping before Halloween

BY Jenna Duncan

WASHINGTON The National Retail Federation today released results of its 2008 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, run by BIGresearch, showing that the average American holiday shopper plans to spend more than $800 each on holiday shopping.

The NRF’s survey results showed that 40.2 percent of consumers said that they will begin  holiday shopping before Halloween and survey respondents plan to spend about $832 on average on holiday items. This average reflects only a 1.9 percent increase over last year’s average total: $816.69. It’s the lowest anticipated spending increase NFR launched its survey in 2002.

Forty percent of survey respondents said that sales and/or promotions is the biggest lure to where they will shop, while 12.6 percent said they will seek “everyday low-prices.” Only 5.6 percent said they would choose holiday shopping locations based on convenience and 5.2 said it depends on customer service.

NRF president and chief executive officer, Tracy Mullin, said, “Retailers are going into this holiday season with their eyes wide open, knowing that savings and promotions will be the main incentive for shoppers. No one is canceling Christmas because money is tight, but consumers will be sticking to their budgets and looking for good deals when deciding where to spend this holiday season.”

Survey repondents also said they would spend about $51.43 each on decorations, $32.43 for greeting cards and postage, $95.04 on candy and food and $22.61 on flowers. The Internet has seen steady rates of shoppers: 44.2 percent of the shoppers in the survey said they were buying gifts online, flat from 44.3 last year. NRF has said that it predicts holiday sales to increase 2.2 percent over last year, for a total of $470.4 billion.

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