HEALTH

GSI Commerce, GNC agree to extend e-commerce partnership

BY Michael Johnsen

PITTSBURGH, Pa. GSI Commerce and GNC on Tuesday announced a multiyear extension and expansion of the e-commerce agreement between the two companies. Under the agreement, which runs through 2017, GSI will continue to provide GNC’s online store with e-commerce technology, order management and customer care operations.

“Since partnering with GSI, our online business has become an important channel for both product sales and information,” said Beth Kaplan, president and chief merchandising and marketing officer for GNC. “We are excited about extending our e-commerce agreement with GSI and expanding our relationship to include interactive marketing services.”

In addition to e-commerce services, the agreement names GSI’s digital agency, gsi interactive, as GNC’s digital agency of record and adds a full complement of marketing services that include site usability testing, paid search marketing, comparison shopping engines, affiliate marketing, display advertising, emerging media, and e-mail services powered by e-Dialog, GSI’s e-mail marketing subsidiary.

“We are very happy that GNC will continue to build its online business with GSI as its e-commerce partner,” said Scott Hardy, executive vice president of business management for GSI. “This long-term, multiyear, and expanded agreement speaks to the success of the relationship and to the opportunity in front of us for continued growth.”

GNC launched its online store on GSI’s e-commerce platform in the fourth quarter of 2005. Online sales have since become an important channel for GNC as well as a valuable extension of its brand, the company stated.

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Drug abuse among young people declines in United States

BY Michael Johnsen

ANN ARBOR, Mich. U.S. students in 8th, 10th and 12th grades are continuing to show a gradual decline in their use of certain drugs, including methamphetamine, according to the 34th annual national survey in the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Monitoring the Future series released last week.

“These certainly are positive developments and the longer term decline in the use of methamphetamine, which continued this year in grade 12, is particularly important,” stated Lloyd Johnston, the study’s principal investigator. “The use of this highly addictive drug is now down by about two thirds among teens since 1999, when its use was first measured.”

There was also a decline in the number of teens abusing dextromethorphan, a popular cough suppressant, the survey found. While the annual prevalence rate was the same for 10th graders as in 2006, abuse among 8th and high school seniors had declined. Eighth graders’ prevalence fell by 0.6 percentage points to 3.2 percent and reported abuse among high school seniors’ dropped 1.3 percentage points to 5.7 percent. “It thus appears that attempts to discourage misuse of dextromethorphan have proven somewhat successful,” Johnston said, though there’s more work yet to be done.

Overall, according to the survey, 3.6, 5.3 and 5.5 percent of 8th, 10th and 12th graders, respectively, reported abusing over-the-counter cough medicines to get high.

“We are encouraged by this progress but remain steadfast in our efforts to reduce the number of teens abusing these medicines to get high,” stated Linda Suydam, president of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. CHPA has developed a number of programs in recent years in an effort to address teen abuse of OTC medicines.

“CHPA and the leading makers of OTC cough medicines, along with our partners and experts in the substance abuse field, are engaged in a multi-pronged public health education campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of medicine abuse,” Suydam said. “The association’s initiatives include educational programming for parents, schools, pharmacists and retailers , law enforcement, health professionals, community leaders and online.”

“It’s encouraging to see that fewer 8th and 12th graders are abusing over-the-counter cough medicines since NIDA began tracking this issue in 2006,” said Gen. Arthur Dean, chairman and chief executive officer of the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America. “Cough medicine abuse is an issue that CADCA has worked diligently on over the past few years in collaboration with [CHPA], which represents the makers of these products, and I have no doubt that these reductions are a sign that our efforts are working.”

The survey is conducted by scientists at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.

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FDA announces extension on new labeling requirements for OTCs, supplements

BY Michael Johnsen

ROCKVILLE, Md. The Food and Drug Administration on Friday announced that it has extended by one year the date after which it will begin enforcing new labeling requirements—that labels of over-the-counter medicines and nutritional supplements include contact information, either a complete domestic address or phone number, so that consumers can report serious adverse events associated with the use of those products.

The FDA will begin enforcing those labeling requirements Jan. 1, 2010, now.

“We believe that it is reasonable to allow an additional two-year period for firms whose labels do not yet meet the requirements … to bring their labeling into full compliance,” the agency stated in a guidance. “This period of enforcement discretion should be adequate to enable all firms to meet the new labeling requirements.”

Currently, under FDA’s “Drug Facts” regulations, the labels of OTC drug products may include a telephone number as a source to answer questions about the product, with the heading “Questions?” or “Questions or comments?”

After Jan. 1, 2010, the agency is recommending OTC and dietary supplement manufacturers spell out for consumers that the contact information is for purposes of reporting serious adverse events. “Although [the regulation] does not require the label to include anything other than a domestic address or phone number for the [manufacturer], FDA recommends that the label bear a clear, prominent statement informing consumers that the domestic address or phone number is for reporting serious adverse events associated with use of the product,” the agency stated in its guidance.

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