HEALTH

J&J, Wakefern program takes new approach

BY Michael Johnsen

A new, dynamic diabetes-centric set co-created by Johnson & Johnson and Wakefern has the potential to generate $1,000 in incremental dollars for every new diabetes customer captured by Wakerfern’s ShopRite stores, the companies revealed recently at the GMDC Health Beauty Wellness 2015 conference in Phoenix. And that growing niche consumer base represents a market basket five times larger than their nondiabetic peers.

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That’s real opportunity that goes well beyond the simple blocking and tackling of slotting inches into a planogram and clearing turn hurdles. “We used to think very different,” noted Chris Skyers, VP health and beauty care at Wakefern Food. “We looked at the portfolio, we had 700 items and we went year to year [determining] how to recycle events,” he said.

And the opportunity is in creating a bridge between those 700 items and the pharmacist.

“As we start to look at all these [health] trends and what they’re doing, and how it’s pushing people into new spaces, that’s where we all have a new opportunity to start to deliver differently,” added Chris Jobes, director of health and wellness at J&J. “Enter the era that’s being called the ‘consumerism of health care.’ So many changes are happening, we’re thinking about it differently.”

There’s a lot of benefit linking the pharmacist to the front end, Jobes said. “[As many as] 29% of people who engage with an in-store professional add an OTC to their basket. That’s step one,” he said. “But it also translates to the entire store — 59% have an incremental item in the basket.”

There are 29.1 million people with diabetes, and it’s a niche that’s growing fast. Currently, at least 1-out-of-3 people will develop diabetes in their lifetime. The cost associated with managing diabetes represents 7% of total U.S. healthcare costs, with $176 billion in direct costs.

“This work is helping us increase adherence, improve conversion, expand the market basket and set the stage for that engagement. Huge opportunity,” Jobes said.

“The healthcare landscape is drastically changing, with skyrocketing costs, and all of us have a great opportunity to drive the market differently, to change patient behavior for better health-and-wellness choices,” Jobes added. “The consumer patient is helping swing the pendulum. We can help them change behavior, change mentality and stimulate a better healthcare culture.”

“We must look at this new era holistically, in an environment that puts the patient and consumer first,” Skyers said. “We must find better ways to take care of our communities and rethink how retailers and wholesalers work in this new culture, and we must pull healthcare providers further into the loop.”

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OTC products aid in patient transition and independence

BY Michael Johnsen

Over-the-counter medicines can play a significant role in the transition of patients from hospital to home by helping to prevent infections and complications, as well as helping patients to remain adherent with their therapies.

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Beyond playing a role in the transition from hospital to home, OTC products, including home healthcare products, can help patients maintain their independence at home. “People are staying at home longer because it is so cost-prohibitive to be in a nursing home, to be in a managed care facility, to be in a hospital,” said Jeff Swain, VP marketing and product development at Carex Health Brands. “There’s a real opportunity both in that area, as well as people who are transitioning from a hospital stay to home.”

Retail pharmacy is often the first stop for patients on their way home from the hospital, suggesting pharmacists can play a critical role in helping transition those patients from one care setting to the other. “We believe the role of the pharmacist is extremely important for products like this,” said Kristin Harper, VP brand management and marketing at Cardinal Health. “They definitely provide a critical role in helping with that continuum of care.”

One-in-five patients are readmitted to the hospital within the first 30 days of discharge, according to a report to Congress from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. “What they found was that they were readmitted not for their initial diagnoses, but for problems that occurred in that acute care period — the first 10 to 15 days that they were discharged,” noted Kerri Miller, founder of Make People Better, which supplies a line of pre- and probiotic immune support products.

And many of those patients — both those being discharged by hospitals and those staying at home longer — are being cared for by another. Today, nearly 43.5 million Americans provide care to an adult, according to a recent report from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP.

In fact, many of the OTC products that will serve this need are purchased by caregivers. “Two-thirds of our products are purchased by caregivers,” Swain said. These caregivers are providing that care on top of working full-time jobs in many cases, he said, so they don’t have a lot of time to spend on product research. That makes shelf education and pharmacist intervention critical.

“By targeting not only the patient, but also the caregiver, we want to make life easier for them,” Harper said. “By providing hospital-quality products, it helps to remove that worry that they have: ‘Is this going to be the best care for my loved one?’”

There may even be an opportunity in creating a destination center for caregivers of patients either preparing for surgery or coming home from surgery, positioned adjacent to either first aid or durable medical equipment that contains advanced wound care, gloves for caregivers, incontinence products, as well as products designed to prevent infection or improve recovery.

Cardinal Health recently released a line of more than 165 home health products called Hospital Quality at Home — products designed to help caregivers make that transition from the hospital to home.

And Hibiclens, an antimicrobial cleanser recommended for use before surgery to prevent/reduce surgical site infections, MRSA or a Staphylococcus infection, may be another good fit. “Doctors often direct patients to shower [with an antimicrobial cleanser] prior to surgery and after surgery,” said Steve Sorci, key market manager, at U.S. Surgical Molnlycke Health Care. “A lot of times they don’t know where to look, so they go to the pharmacist.”

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Study: Aiming for new lower systolic blood pressure target can improve outcomes

BY Michael Johnsen

CLEVELAND — Jackson Wright, Jr. and researchers from University Hospitals Case Medical Center on Monday presented new results from the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial showing that in patients at high risk for cardiovascular events, targeting a systolic blood pressure of less than 120 mm Hg resulted in lower rates of fatal and non-fatal major events or death compared to targeting systolic blood pressure to the usually recommended target of less than 140 mm Hg.
 
The findings were presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in Orlando and published in the New England Journal of Medicine and add to the preliminary results from SPRINT announced two months ago. These findings demonstrated that intensive management of high blood pressure below a commonly recommended blood pressure target significantly reduces rates of cardiovascular disease, and lowers risk of death in a group of adults 50 years and older with high blood pressure.
 
The SPRINT study, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, has evaluated the benefits of maintaining a new target for systolic blood pressure, the top number in a blood pressure reading, among a group of patients 50 years and older at increased risk for heart disease or who have kidney disease. University Hospitals Case Medical Center/Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine coordinated one of the five Clinical Center Networks across the country selected to conduct the trial that has recruited more than 9,300 participants.
 
This blood pressure intervention portion of the trial was stopped 3.26 years into a planned 5-year term as a result of the finding of a 25% reduction in the primary cardiovascular outcome and 27% reduction of all-cause mortality in those randomized to the lower 120 mm blood pressure target. Specifically, a 38% reduction in heart failure and 43% reduction in death from heart-related events was found and reported in NEJM.
 
“What is so groundbreaking about the findings from SPRINT is that we are beginning to determine the most appropriate targets for systolic blood pressure to reduce cardiovascular morbidity and death, especially in a diverse population of older patients without diabetes,” said Wright, lead author and co-principal investigator on the SPRINT trial. Wright is director of the Clinical Hypertension Program at UH Case Medical Center and Professor of Medicine at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and first author on the article.
 
The study reported about 1%-2% higher rates of adverse events such as hypotension, syncope, electrolyte abnormalities and acute kidney injury/failures in the group of patients treated to the lower systolic blood pressure target. As a continuation of these findings, SPRINT researchers are proceeding to examine how the lower systolic blood pressure target may impact the incidence of dementia and long-term kidney disease.
 
In order to achieve the 120 mm Hg target, the findings also noted that an average of one additional medication was required for the lower target with no difference in tolerability even in patients over age 75.
 
“I cannot predict whether the information presented today will alter the guidelines,” Wright said. “I can however assure that it will certainly create a discussion on the merits of treating hypertensive patients to much lower blood pressure targets than previously recommended.”
 
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