PHARMACY

NACDS teams with Nielsen researchers to support smaller-scale supplier members

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores is joining with global information and media giant The Nielsen Co. to bolster the market information available to its smaller-scale associate members.

NACDS dubbed the Nielsen service “a new benefit for its associate members.” The service, which will provide syndicated market-tracking data annually to suppliers who qualify, will be free, although the organization assigns it a value of $2,000.

“The complimentary benefit will…assist NACDS associate consumer product goods member companies in gaining a better understanding of the competitive marketplace and to position their products accordingly,” NACDS noted. Nielsen will supply the data.

The program will roll out this month to qualified NACDS associate CPG company members in good standing, the group explained, provided those companies’ combined annual sales to drug, food, and mass retailers are under $200 million.

“NACDS has an ongoing commitment to help small- and medium-sized member companies successfully bring products to market and succeed in our industry,” said NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson. “We are pleased to work with The Nielsen Company and appreciate their leadership in providing this invaluable service to many of our members.”

Information on qualification details and how to participate can be found on the NACDS web site at www.nacds.org. Promotional materials will also be made available in conjunction with the upcoming meetings, particularly the NACDS Marketplace conference, and can be found on their respective websites housed on the NACDS website.

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Study finds more than half of Americans regularly take prescription meds

BY Alaric DeArment

FRANKLIN LAKES, N.J. For the first time, a majority of Americans with health insurance have some kind of chronic health condition, and young people have experienced the largest increases.

According to research released Wednesday by Medco Health Solutions that examined the prescription claims of around 2.5 million Americans, 51 percent of insured Americans took prescription drugs to treat chronic health problems in 2007. While the elderly still constitute the largest demographic such medications, nearly half of women aged 22 to 44 and a third of men in the same age bracket were also using them. Men and women in that age group experienced a 20 percent increase in use of drugs to treat chronic conditions between 2001 and 2007.

Among men in the 20 to 44 age bracket, drugs to treat hypertension and cholesterol were among the top four, showing an increase in heart disease in this group. Nearly 30 percent of children aged 19 and younger also took chronic medications, mostly to treat asthma, allergies, depression and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

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Avastin/Lucentis study may reverberate through industry

BY Drew Buono

NORWALK, Conn. According to IMS Health, a new clinical trial that began this year by a research institute may change the relationship between payers and the pharmaceutical industry, the Financial Times reported.

The National Eye Institute has sponsored a $16 million head-to-head trial of Genentech’s drugs Avastin and Lucentis. Lucentis is approved to treat age-related macular degeneration and Avastin is used to treat cancer but, both drugs are very similar and physicians have been using Avastin off-label for AMD.

The problem with the off-label use is the cost, as a single dose of Lucentis costs $2,000 while a bottle of Avastin can be split up to cost only $40-$75 per injection.

IMS argues that if CATT, the Institute’s study, shows Avastin to be as safe and effective for AMD as Lucentis, it may pave the way for an increasing number of payers to take comparative drug studies out of the hands of the pharmaceutical companies, especially as databases of patients make it much easier to conduct such tests.

But it warns that the move may create a disincentive for companies to study such areas, and creates untested areas of who would approve Avastin for AMD following a late-stage Phase 3 clinical trial which was conducted without any of the usual early-stage testing regulators usually require.

The study is expected to conclude in 2010 and has no involvement with Genentech.

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