PHARMACY

General Mills donates to charity and advertises through NBC’s ‘Biggest Loser’

BY Melissa Valliant

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. Major food manufacturer General Mills is backing NBC’s hit show “Biggest Loser” with its first-ever advertising slot for the show’s seventh season, which started Tuesday night. The spot will be viewed by approximately 8.6 million viewers, and fall 2008 showed a 2% rise in adult viewers ages 18 to 49, a demographic that advertisers often like to target. Nine other marketers from the show’s December season will also be advertising.

General Mills is also sponsoring a “Pound for Pound Challenge” in which the Cheerios and Progresso soup maker will be contributing 10 cents to Feeding America for every pound of weight loss pledged at biggestloser.com.

“This is our first integrated partnership of this kind,” said John Haugen, General Mills’ vice president of health and wellness. “We’re looking for a positive impact on all of our brands.”

Though popular (“Biggest Loser” averaged 8.9 million viewers last January), the show will be rivaling Fox’s incredibly successful “American Idol,” which begins next week and also airs Tuesday nights. Idol can bring in an audience of up to 25 million.

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American Idol judge teams with AHA to promote diabetes awareness

BY Michael Johnsen

PHILADELPHIA Music industry veteran and TV personality Randy Jackson (American Idol) will be teaming up with the American Heart Association for a second year to help people living with Type 2 diabetes understand the importance of properly managing their disease, and to encourage them to enroll in The Heart of Diabetes campaign on Jan. 8, the American Heart Association announced Tuesday.

Jackson, who lives with type 2 diabetes, is coming to Philadelphia to urge adults in the city with diabetes to get regular physical activity, make healthy food choices and work with their healthcare providers to develop a comprehensive treatment plan.

In addition, local chef Delilah Winder will host a free cooking demonstration to show how lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, can help individuals improve their management of Type 2 diabetes.

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NACDS challenges report on DME rules

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. Hitting back against what it argues is inadequate or biased coverage of a health care issue of concern to its members, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores today took the Wall Street Journal to task for a report on federal regulations for providers of durable medical equipment and supplies for Medicare beneficiaries.

The organization swung into action via its NACDS Rapid Response program in response to a recent Wall Street Journal Health Blog post. The posted article, NACDS president and chief executive Steven Anderson asserted today, correctly cited the need to combat Medicare fraud but ignored the harmful impact the new DME regulations would have on pharmacies.

Through the Department of Health & Human Services, the Bush Administration pushed through new rules established by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, for the sale of DME in retail outlets. Under the new regulations, retailers wishing to participate in the market for durable medical equipment will be required to gain accreditation to sell home health and other health supplies, and to bid in competition with other DME providers to obtain contracts to sell those products. The so-called Competitive Acquisition Program was originally launched in 10 markets as a demonstration project, with delayed plans for a phased national rollout.

NACDS and other pharmacy groups were instrumental in securing that delay through legislation to postpone and reform Medicare’s competitive bidding program for DME. The group reports it is now “engaged with Congress and CMS to ensure that policies intended to safeguard the Medicare program are implemented in a manner that minimizes disruption of care.”

Responding to the WSJ article, Anderson called attention to the importance of preserving patient access to medical equipment and supplies, such as diabetes testing products.  The accreditation requirement and the recently issued rule requiring that pharmacy retailers be bonded to retain Medicare enrollment, said Anderson, “are unnecessary regulations imposed on state-licensed pharmacies that could limit patients’ ability to manage their diseases.

“While it is important to stop fraudulent claims and fly-by-night operations, CMS’ new regulations will make it much harder—even prohibitive—for legitimate suppliers to provide DME for patients,” added NACDS’ top executive. “Pharmacies play a crucial role in the management of diabetes and are an essential provider of diabetic supplies and Medicare Part B medications. These regulations will threaten patients’ access to the crucial supplies and equipment to manage their diseases effectively.”

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