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General Mills’ new product lineup reflects ‘deep understanding’ of customers

BY Ryan Chavis

MINNEAPOLIS — General Mills on Monday announced a number of new products set to debut this summer, all of which reflect consumer-driven food trends. With offerings that range from Cheerios Protein cereal to Suddenly Salad made with whole grains, the company's new products were conceived with a keen eye on customer needs.

“Everything we do starts with the consumer in mind, and in Fiscal 2015 we’re applying this consumer first mindset across our portfolio,” said Ken Powell, General Mills Chairman and CEO. “Through a deep understanding of our consumers — what foods they like, where they shop and how they like to cook — we are rapidly addressing their needs with products that offer relevant health news, increased convenience, superior taste and product quality.”

The themes displayed in the new product lineup include:

Protein
More than 50% of consumers are looking to pack more protein into their diets, the company said, making protein-rich foods a hot item in U.S. supermarkets. General Mills hopes to meet this demand with Cheerios Protein, Cascadian Farm Protein Granola and new flavors of Yoplait Greek Yogurt.

Bold flavor
The company noted that consumers are embracing products with globally inspired flavors. General Mills is offering Old El Paso Nacho Cheese Taco Shells, Progresso Chili and Chex Mix Xtreme — which boasts flavors like Habanero Lime and Sweet & Spicy Sriracha.

Gluten-free
The company estimates that 30% of consumers are trying to cut back on gluten consumption; it will add to its existing gluten-free portfolio with the addition of Chex Gluten Free Oatmeal, Betty Crocker Gluten Free Pizza Crust, Larabar Renola and Food Should Taste Good Brown Rice Crackers.

Whole grains
Eighty-one percent of consumers are trying to incorporate more whole grains into their diets, the company said. It plans to add Suddenly Grain Salad, Green Giant Steamers and Nature Valley Fruteria to help satisfy this segment.

Sweet treats
For consumers looking to sweeten up their days, the company is offering the following decadent additions: Fiber One Streusel, Betty Crocker Hershey’s Premium Dessert Mixes, Pillsbury Melts and Häagen-Dazs Triple Sensations.

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Cardinal’s Adherence Suite, MTM solution equip pharmacists to help patients

BY Michael Johnsen

DUBLIN, Ohio — The theme for this year’s Cardinal Health RBC 2014 is “Leading Change.” For community pharmacists, that means playing a more active role in patient care. And Cardinal Health has a suite of services to help community pharmacists take the next step in making a difference in their patients’ lives — the Cardinal Health Adherence Suite.

Improving patient medication adherence does a lot more than drive additional prescriptions to the bottom line. Improving adherence helps take a bite out of the $290 billion price tag that nonadherence costs the U.S. health system. What’s more, moving the metric on adherence helps improve patient outcomes, a factor that can help open the door into some of the narrow networks that are becoming more commonplace.

“Health plans are increasingly focused on how pharmacies perform on the Star ratings' pharmacy-related metrics,” wrote Elie Bahou, VP managed care and business development, pharmaceutical distribution at Cardinal Health, in a recent Cardinal corporate blog. “One key area of focus is medication adherence, particularly in the categories of diabetes, statins for cholesterol and anti-hypertensive medications to treat high blood pressure. In addition, plans are looking at the extent to which pharmacies are identifying gaps in care — specific to patients with diabetes being on an ACE/ARB and avoiding high-risk medications in the elderly — which can be improved with proper intervention.”

Cardinal Health’s Adherence Suite includes offerings like the EQuIPP dashboard, a performance-benchmarking system that helps the community pharmacist track and measure the pharmacy’s performance on Star ratings so they can help qualify for entry into these narrow pharmacy networks.

The suite also features a Compliance Management Service, a partnership between Cardinal Health and LearnSomething that serves as a one-stop shop for accredited courses and training accepted by all third-party payers, and that is necessary for compliance. This solution also offers CMS-mandated OIG/GSA check verifications.

Dispill, a low-cost, multi-dose packaging solution that lets pharmacies deliver prescribed medication to consumers in an all-inclusive blister pack, is also a key solution as part of the suite. Cardinal Health is the exclusive distributor in the United States.

In addition, Cardinal Health recently launched its medication therapy management solution to make it easier and more time-efficient for retail pharmacies to help patients better understand and adhere to their medications.

“No one is better positioned than a community pharmacist to help patients improve medication adherence, reduce medication errors and improve health outcomes related to medication use,” said Brad Tice, product leader of Cardinal Health’s new Medication Therapy Management Solution. “Our goal is to make it as easy and time-efficient as possible for pharmacies to deliver the MTM services that address these important patient needs.”

“This solution is a win for patients, for pharmacists, for payers and for the broader healthcare system. It helps improve patient outcomes and reduces unnecessary healthcare costs, saves retail pharmacists’ valuable time and strengthens the very important relationship between retail pharmacies and their patients,” Tice said.

Tice said that one issue that prevents pharmacists from delivering MTM services to patients is that there are currently few opportunities for them to be reimbursed for doing so. While Medicare Part D currently reimburses pharmacists for delivering MTM services, only a very small percentage of enrollees are eligible.

“Right now, retail pharmacies are caught in a bit of a Catch-22. They can only be reimbursed for delivering MTM services to a very small percentage of the population, and it can be a challenge to find enough eligible patients to make it truly viable,” Tice said. “On the other hand, if they want to be included in payers’ quality performance networks, retail pharmacies need to demonstrate their ability to positively impact patient care and improve Star ratings. One of the best ways to do that is to deliver MTM services to as many eligible patients as possible.”

The goal of the company’s new MTM program is to address these challenges by positioning Cardinal Health to work seamlessly with each participating pharmacy’s patients to help ensure they are on the right medications, using them the right way and achieving the desired results. Tice said that the company’s approach is working. The more than 180 retail pharmacies that have participated in the company’s pilot MTM program have delivered nearly four times as many comprehensive medication reviews as the industry average.

Through the company’s new Medication Therapy Management Solution:

  • Licensed pharmacists from Cardinal Health, who are certified in medication therapy management, will work directly with a retail pharmacy’s eligible patients to perform a comprehensive medication review;
  • Acting as an extension of the retail pharmacy’s team, Cardinal Health licensed pharmacists share the results of that medication review with the patient’s pharmacy in the form of a medication action plan, which enables the pharmacy to work with the patient and the patient’s other healthcare providers to implement the recommended changes;
  • The patient and the retail pharmacy receive a patient-specific medication action plan that can be implemented locally. It highlights recommended changes in therapy, adherence issues that need to be addressed through clinical intervention, suggestions for medications the patient should consider taking or stop taking, and opportunities for generic substitutions; and
  • The medication review also identifies additional opportunities for retail pharmacies to meet the individualized healthcare needs of each patient — like recommended immunizations, services to improve cardiovascular health, or helping patients better manage diabetes.

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FDA approves Novo Nordisk’s drug for rare bleeding disorder

BY Ryan Chavis

PLAINSBORO, N.J. — Novo Nordisk on Monday announced that the Food and Drug Administration approved the company's NovoSeven RT (coagulation factor VIIa [recombinant]). The drug is the first recombinant treatment for bleeding episodes and perioperative management in patients with Glanzmann’s Thrombasthenia (GT) with refractoriness to platelet transfusions, with or without antibodies to platelets, the company said.

Glanzmann’s Thrombasthenia is a rare genetic bleeding disorder with limited treatment plans. It occurs when certain surface proteins on platelets are either missing or fail to work. This impacts the blood's ability to form an initial platelet "plug," which is the first step in building a strong blood clot, the company noted.

“Novo Nordisk is proud to build on our strong heritage of pioneering new therapies and indications for the bleeding disorders community by offering the only recombinant treatment for Glanzmann’s Thrombasthenia,” said Eddie Williams, senior vice president BioPharmaceuticals, Novo Nordisk. “We’re committed to keeping patients at the forefront of all we do, and this approval allows us to expand on this commitment.”

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