HEALTH

Fueling consumers’ gains

CRN webinar encourages sports nutrition stewardship

BY Michael Johnsen

The sports nutrition segment represents a significant opportunity for retailers, with SPINS reporting that protein supplements alone accounted for almost $4 billion in mass retail and specialty outlet sales last year — but is it worth the potential headache?

By and large, consumers shopping the sports nutrition category represent an aspirational shopper who is committed to getting fit and also willing to spend the money to accomplish those goals over a condensed time frame. But on the other hand, the segment’s profit-boosting SKUs can turn into a product liability mindset in the hands of a shopper with an “if-two-is-good-four-is-better” mindset.

Recognizing the double-edged sword of the segment, the Council for Responsible Nutrition recently hosted a webinar aimed at helping better navigate the space.

“Sports nutrition consumers are uniquely committed to improving performance, looking better or recovering faster,” Duffy MacKay, CRN’s senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs, said during the webinar. “Dietary supplements can play an incredibly important role in keeping athletes healthy, active and able to perform.”

Numbers show that consumers recognize the potential benefits of sports nutrition products. A SPINSights report published last year on protein found that as many as 66% of Americans said they were looking to consume “as much protein as possible.” This need has helped feed growth across several sports nutrition segments, including liquid protein and meal replacements.

To take advantage of that consumer need without incurring too much risk, retailers need to vet the sports nutrition companies seeking space on their shelves, CRN’s experts said.

“From a legal perspective, all of the usual concerns that a company would have in the broader dietary supplement industry apply to sports nutrition,” Rick Collins, a founding attorney of the Collins Gann McCloskey and Barry firm, said. “There needs to be a manufacturing agreement in place that deals with issues of loss, contamination and indemnification. There needs to be insurance for the product, including recall insurance. The same concerns for label compliance under DSHEA and the avoidance of unsubstantiated claims apply.”

Consumers are looking for that additional level of accountability, and there is an emerging traceability trend taking shape across the industry that is akin to the gravitation toward cleaner labels and more transparency.

CRN’s Supplement OWL, an industry-wide dietary supplement product registry, may help retailers identify optimal sports nutrition partners, the webinar said. Manufacturers who have bought into the product registry are able to upload product information and documentation and choose who will have access to that information — down to the retailer or regulator.

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At the intersection

Jeff Bennett, CEO of higi, shares how higi’s partnerships, health monitoring stations and a connected healthcare system translate to healthier patients

BY DSN STAFF

There are two key trends playing out in health care right now that are simultaneously coming to a head — patients are taking an increasingly hands-on role in their health and pharmacy reimbursements are being tied to outcomes. One company that is operating at the intersection of these trends is higi, whose health monitoring stations delivered 42 million blood pressure screenings last year. Drug Store News caught up with higi CEO Jeff Bennett about how a connected healthcare system can translate to healthier patients.

Drug Store News: How do higi and its retail partners help facilitate better healthcare knowledge?

Jeff Bennett: At higi, our goal is to make it easier for you to be your healthiest. We are a population health enablement company that empowers consumers to better measure, track and act on their health data by first knowing it and then taking the action of sharing it with trusted healthcare providers and pharmacists, so together, they can determine the best action. To date, more than 50 retailers have worked with us and placed 11,000 stations in stores, and we delivered 42 million blood pressure screenings last year. This shows how retailers can be that front door of health care by connecting their customers to healthcare stakeholders through the higi platform.

DSN: Recent data from CVS Health showed that a good portion of women aren’t aware of their heart disease risk. How do your screenings help people understand their risks and what other factors might be impacting their health?

JB: This is an important topic, especially with the new blood pressure guidelines from the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association. As health care becomes more personalized, health information is likewise going to be personalized to the individual. Helping consumers understand and digest their personal information is critical. Of the 17 million screenings completed on higi stations by women in 2017, 60% had blood pressure readings that were in the hypertensive range with these new guidelines. More importantly, every 90 seconds one woman had a blood pressure reading that was in the range of hypertensive crisis, which highlights the value of convenient and immediate access to a trusted healthcare professional, including pharmacists.

DSN: What are some of the ways that higi and its partners help make pharmacists and stores into a resource for patients beyond
the screening?

JB: higi has three key pillars — reach, know, manage. The first step is asking how to get someone to engage and do a screening. But that’s just the first step. Our goal is to make it easier for the consumer — and for the stakeholders trying to reach these individuals — to routinely track their vitals over time for better population health management.

At Wegmans, consumers can securely share their health data from the station with the pharmacist through a secure integration with McKesson. The consumer can sit down at the station, receive a unique code, then walk up to the pharmacist and say ‘I want to share my data with you,’ which allows the pharmacist to review
outcomes and see how that patient is managing their health, along with their adherence information.
By being consumer-centric and inspiring the consumer to connect to their health, these efforts will drive better engagement between the pharmacist, doctor, and the patient. Higher engagement drives better outcomes over time, and we are making that regular touchpoint easier.

DSN: What do you see as the future of connected health, and what will higi’s
role be?

JB: We bet on this five years ago, and it’s great when something like CVS Health-Aetna, with its focus on connected health, happens because it validates the investments we’ve made. There is a need in the market for consumers who want a more convenient, cheaper and easier way to connect with healthcare providers and share their data. Through our actionable data and technology integrations, higi is that connective tissue as healthcare systems continue to move toward a value-based system where the retailer can be that front door of health care, making it truly easier for people to be their healthiest.


Jeff Bennett is the CEO of higi.

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Fostering connections

NACDS RxIMPACT and NACDS Annual Meeting are directly related

BY Steve Anderson

NACDS RxIMPACT Day on Capitol Hill — held March 8 to 9 in Washington, D.C. — relates directly to many of the topics that will be addressed at the 2018 NACDS Annual Meeting, perhaps in some surprising ways.

For those who may not be aware of this flagship advocacy event, NACDS RxIMPACT Day on Capitol Hill presents an opportunity for pharmacy advocates to travel to the nation’s capital to visit with members of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives. Now in its 10th year, it is difficult to imagine NACDS without it.

Potential realized
Since my first NACDS Annual Meeting in 2007, I have appreciated the opportunity and responsibility to report on NACDS’ progress each year. Through the leadership of the board of directors, the engagement of the membership and the professionalism of the staff team, we have raised awareness of pharmacy’s role as the face of neighborhood health care, and we have translated this into greater success in advocacy.

Think about it: It has been the case for quite a while that NACDS members operate stores in every single congressional district, and that there is a pharmacy within close proximity to most Americans (currently, 89% live within five miles of a community pharmacy). However, it is only through the dedication of NACDS members that we now can say this: Pharmacy advocates from all 50 states participated in the 2018 NACDS RxIMPACT Day on Capitol Hill, reaching the offices of every member of Congress in person. Those are two very important “firsts.”

Priority issues addressed
The NACDS Annual Meeting affords member-company representatives the chance to discuss the public policy issues that need to be addressed by the industry, through the common voice that NACDS makes possible. As has been the case for the past several years, the opioid abuse epidemic will remain a top priority on this list of issues. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that NACDS RxIMPACT is vitally important to the industry’s outreach to members of Congress on this topic.

Following pharmacy’s meetings on Capitol Hill this year, it was interesting to see the newsletters that members of Congress sent to their constituents. Many of these newsletters included photos and stories of the legislators’ meetings with NACDS member companies. Many of these stories focused on the fact that pharmacy remains committed to being part of the solution to the opioid abuse epidemic.

It also is worth noting that NACDS RxIMPACT Day on Capitol Hill is part of a comprehensive NACDS RxIMPACT grassroots advocacy program. Among the other components is the Congressional pharmacy tour program, through which NACDS members host members of Congress for tours. As was the case after meetings in Washington, D.C., we have seen many members of Congress reporting on their tours of pharmacies as well — and positioning these tours as part of their work to better understand and consider legislation related to opioid issues.

Future of chain-supplier collaboration
At the heart of the NACDS Annual Meeting, of course, is the efficiency of conducting a high volume of productive top-to-top business meetings in a short period of time. To do that, it is essential that the NACDS ecosystem remains productive and appealing for senior executives and emerging leaders.

NACDS RxIMPACT Day on Capitol Hill has turned into one of the key aspects of the overall value that NACDS chain members derive from the association. That bodes well for the culture of top-to-top engagement that is alive and well throughout the entire calendar of NACDS meetings.

It is amazing to think of the ways that NACDS RxIMPACT Day on Capitol Hill has emerged as a driving force for NACDS’ pro-patient and pro-pharmacy agenda, and — by extension — as a catalyst for the success of NACDS chain and associate members year-round.


Steve Anderson is president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

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