HEALTH

Matrixx reports Q2 decline but hopes new campaign will boost business

BY Michael Johnsen

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Matrixx Initiatives on Monday reported a decline of 17% in net sales to $21.3 million for the company’s second quarter ended Sept. 30. The decline, Matrixx president and CEO Bill Hemelt explained to analysts Tuesday morning, represented a course correction of sorts. The sales decline was “due to lower upfront buys by retailers,” Hemelt said. Last year, all of the hype around H1N1 drove retailers to heavily stock in cough-and-cold supplies. This year, that industry level has dropped to more historical levels, Hemelt suggested, particularly across the drug channel.

Hemelt shared with analysts the company’s new advertising campaign, which begins airing in earnest a week following the November elections. The new campaign features three iconic TV moms — "The Brady Bunch’s" Florence Henderson, "Family Ties’" Meredith Baxter and "Seinfeld’s" Estelle Harris — who make up the “Mom Squad” and save cold sufferers from various treatment myths, such as “freezing out” a cold or consuming onions to help relieve the cold.

“We believe our new creative will continue to differentiate our products from general symptom relief products and help increase consumer awareness,” Hemelt said. “All of these [initiatives] will be supported by strong retail marketing support that has already begun,” Hemelt added during his conference call with analysts.

 

Last week, Matrixx released a new national survey of U.S. adults that found the majority of Americans are misinformed about what causes the common cold, and how and when they should treat it. Nearly three-quarters of consumers (72%) believed there was not much they could do about a cold except mask the symptoms and wait it out. The top five myths about colds that pharmacists reported were most difficult to debunk:

  • Antibiotics can kill the germs that cause colds;
  • Changes in the weather can cause colds;
  • Getting wet and chilled can cause colds;
  • Sitting in a draft can cause colds; and
  • Avoiding changes in temperatures will help prevent colds.

 

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NCPA taps former GPhA chief Jaeger to succeed Bruce Roberts as next CEO

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. In a highly anticipated move to new leadership, the National Community Pharmacists Association has named pharmacist, attorney and generic drug industry advocate Kathleen Jaeger as its new chief executive. Jaeger, who for the past eight years was president and CEO of the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, succeeds Bruce Roberts, who retired as head of the NCPA in June.

Jaeger’s appointment is effective Nov. 1. Her selection to head the independent pharmacy industry’s top national trade association was announced Sunday by NCPA president Joseph Harmison at the organization’s 112th Annual Convention and Trade Exposition in Philadelphia.

Assuming command of the NCPA in the wake of Roberts’ retirement, Jaeger will have big shoes to fill, given the passion, energy and effectiveness her predecessor brought to the post. But she comes highly prepared: At the GPhA, Jaeger brought a significantly higher level of visibility to the generic industry, along with closer ties with Congress and such federal agencies as the Food and Drug Administration, which paid off in a series of legislative and regulatory victories.

Jaeger also brought a more sophisticated approach to communications and healthcare advocacy on behalf of generic manufacturers, “transforming the association into a powerful voice for the generic industry, developing aggressive and effective public policy, advocacy and communications programs,” the NCPA noted.

“Kathleen brings to NCPA a demonstrated track record of successful advocacy, along with a first-hand pharmacy background,” Harmison said at the conference. “Kathleen’s knowledge of the pharmacy industry and proven Washington expertise make her a perfect fit for NCPA.”

Lonny Wilson, who chairs the NCPA’s executive committee and serves as CEO of Pharmacy Providers of Oklahoma, also praised the group’s new top executive. Jaeger, he asserted, “has the experience, vision and leadership capabilities to take this well-positioned association and guide it to an even brighter future to better serve community pharmacists and their patients.”

For her part, Jaeger said she was “absolutely honored to join NCPA and represent independent community pharmacists and the patients we care for each day. “As the daughter of an independent community pharmacist, and as a pharmacist myself, I understand the critical and growing role neighborhood pharmacies play in our healthcare system, as well as the challenges they face,” she said. “Every day, millions of Americans depend on community pharmacists for quality medicines and expert counseling to feel better and lead more productive lives. We need to ensure that independent community pharmacists are indispensible to America’s healthcare system today, tomorrow and beyond.”

Jaeger’s departure from GPhA followed by several months the enactment of the massive health-reform bill. Among other changes, the new law created a regulatory approval pathway at the FDA for biosimilars, fulfilling a long-sought goal for GPhA and its CEO. That legislative victory came at a price, however: It gave innovator biotech companies 12 years’ data exclusivity in which to market their drugs before the FDA could approve a biosimilar version, rather than the five-year period sought by Jaeger and the generic industry.

Prior to leading the GPhA, Jaeger chaired the food and drug practice for the McKenna and Cuneo law firm and, later, Kirkpatrick and Lockhart. She earned a Juris doctorate from Catholic University and a bachelors in science in pharmacy from the University of Rhode Island.

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Plugging up ear care

BY DSN STAFF

COLD SPRING HARBOR, N.Y. —Cirrus Healthcare Products recently announced the launch of Tinnitex, one of the first ear care products designed to help relieve tinnitus, otherwise known as ringing in the ears. The new product is scheduled to ship in the first half of 2011.

According to the Journal of Clinical Nursing, more than 50 million Americans suffer from tinnitus. Today’s remedies include eardrops and nutritional supplements. Employing infusion technology, Cirrus has developed the Tinnitex earplug so that it delivers ingredients that help relieve ringing in the ears transdermally. The soft silicone earplugs are infused with aloe vera, vitamin B12, zinc and ginkgo biloba. The product should be a welcome addition to the company’s EarPlanes, which generated $2.5 million in sales for the 52 weeks ended Sept. 5 across food, drug and mass (excluding Walmart), according to SymphonyIRI Group data. Overall, sales of ear care products were up 7.6% to $44.4 million for the same period.

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