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FMI attendees connect the dots between food, Rx

BY DSN STAFF

ORLANDO, Fla. —Connecting the dots between the pharmacist and every other part of the store remains the proverbial Holy Grail of supermarket pharmacy retailing, holding as much promise and proving quite elusive for some chains, despite the best intentions. It was in this spirit that several hundred retail pharmacy executives and the supplier partners that do business with them, gathered here last month for FMI’s annual Supermarket Pharmacy Conference, which, for the first time this year, was co-located with the GMDC Health Beauty Wellness Marketing Conference right down the hall.

In the educational sessions, much attention was paid to the recession, and how the down-spiraling economy had caused seismic shifts in consumer purchasing behavior. But not all of this has been bad news for supermarkets.

As IMS Health VP industry relations Doug Long noted in a discussion of current supermarket pharmacy trends, the industry has faced a “triple trade down” over the past 18 months or so. Stage 1 was the shift from dining out in restaurants to shopping the grocery store more. He described Stage 2 as the shift in the purchasing mix, including more private label and less national brands, more coupons, more frozen and less fresh—more of the basics. Stage 3 has been the shift in channels, with consumers shopping more at supercenters and club stores.

Another common theme was the need to re-train consumers to stop thinking about healthy eating as expensive—an area of particular opportunity for supermarket pharmacy retailers, who could leverage the expertise of the pharmacist to reinforce the importance of healthy eating and its relationship to whatever condition they may be treating, and then using the rest of the store to deliver a message of value.

But there is need for greater coordination of effort between the pharmacy and the other parts of the store, as was discussed extensively in a panel discussion moderated by FMI VP pharmacy services Cathy Polley and which included, Don Clark, VP pharmacy operations at K-VA-T Food Stores; Dave Jones, VP industry initiatives at Kellogg USA; Dave Nazaruk, SVP business development at Staywell Custom Communications; Cecil Russell, VP strategic development at SaveMart; and Jay Parsons, president of Catalina Health Resource. One area of note: the seeming disconnect between the center-store objectives and the health-and-wellness initiatives that are tying together pharmacy with other areas of the store, like the produce aisle. For many stores, big promotions on such items as sugary cereals may drive foot traffic, but is that messaging at odds with the whole health platform that may be driving decisions in the rest of the store?

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Late-stage clinical trial results: MS drug is effective

BY Alaric DeArment

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. Patients taking an investigational drug for multiple sclerosis fared better than those taking placebo, according to late-stage clinical results presented Friday at a neurology conference.

Avanir Pharmaceuticals said MS patients taking Zenvia (dextromethorphan and quinidine) in 30 mg/10 mg doses experienced a 11.9% greater reduction in pseudobulbar effect – an MS-related condition also known as PBA that causes sudden, uncontrollable episodes of laughter, crying and other emotional outbursts – than those taking placebo in a 12-week phase 3 trial, results of which the company presented at the 3rd World Congress on Controversies in Neurology in Prague, Czech Republic. Patients taking the 20 mg/10 mg dose did not do better than the placebo group.

“PBA represents an area of high, unmet medical need with no FDA-approved treatments currently available,” study presenter and trial steering committee member Daniel Wynn of the Consultants in Neurology Multiple Sclerosis Center stated. “Although the involuntary emotional outbursts of PBA cause considerable impairment for millions of individuals in the United States, it is under-recognized and commonly misdiagnosed.”

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New report projects 12.6% increase of probiotics market

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK The two takeaways from this story are “the [U.S.] market is expected to grow at a rate of almost 14%” and “the early movers in the industry will benefit in terms of market share.”

 

That about describes the opportunity in a probiotic nutshell.

 

 

The rising interest in probiotics can be credited in part to Dannon’s Activia brand, a line of yogurts and yogurt drinks, which has been heavily advertised to the American consumer with the message that not all bacteria is bad for you — and in fact some bacteria taken on a regular basis can impart some pretty significant health benefits. That advertising message — that probiotics can be an important piece in a healthier-for-you diet — has been all the more reinforced as Bayer supports its probiotic Phillips Colon Health, and as Procter & Gamble rolls out its Align probiotic.

 

 

And the consumers already are core drug store shoppers. The ratio of women to men in search of a product delivering digestive benefits is about 2-to-1, according to industry experts. When women hit their 30s and 40s, that’s the point in their lives when they’re looking for a strategy in life to help them manage their digestive issues.

 

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