HEALTH

New OTC counseling tool helps clinicians SMART-en up

BY Michael Johnsen

In a move that may help drive recommendations of nonprescription medicines, SMARTcare last month announced the creation of a new counseling tool specifically designed to provide retail clinicians with education around over-the-counter medicines for some of the most popular conditions that retail clinicians see.

“Our offering has been built with the professional clinicians and the consumers they see in mind,” Ken DeBaene, chief marketing officer at SMARTcare, told Drug Store News. “As the clinics and the emerging care model structure expand out into other areas, our intent is to make sure that we’ve got educational content for the consumer that the practitioner can use in [his or her] diagnosis and treatment conversations with those patients.”

“Our launch partner was the [Convenient Care Association],” noted Ted Lawless, director of sales at SMARTcare. “We’re still very much in [the] launch phase,” he said, but initial feedback from both clinicians and potential manufacturer sponsors has been extremely positive.

The business model is supported through sponsorships by OTC manufacturers that are then able to reach consumers at the point of care. “The brands benefit from their exposure to healthcare professionals,” DeBaene said. “And the recommendation of their product, along with a purchase incentive, really delivers strong consumer [activity].”

There are five general categories included as part of the SMARTcare offering today, including such respiratory conditions as allergies and cold/flu; such health management as arthritis pain and heart health; such common illnesses as ear infections and heart-burn; such skin conditions as acne and athlete’s foot; and such minor injuries as burns and tick removal.

The Foundation for HealthSMART Consumers, a not-for-profit organization, provides the SMARTcare educational content. The foundation leads a social program to engage healthcare consumers through information and education.

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Sorry, FTC: ‘Pay-for-delay’ isn’t going away

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT This week’s decision by the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals could make political efforts to ban generic-branded patent settlements a lot more difficult.

(THE NEWS: Appeals court upholds decision to OK ‘pay-for-delay’ deals. For the full story, click here)

The Federal Trade Commission in particular, not to mention some members of Congress like Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., has fought hard against so-called “pay-for-delay” settlements between branded and generic drug companies, contending that they delay patients’ access to generic drugs and cost consumers billions of dollars every year.

The concerns of opponents are understandable. Because generic and branded drug makers are supposed to be competitors, what seem on the surface like sweetheart deals must look positively Faustian to many people. But the judges in the appeals court affirmed that whatever their appearance, patent settlements don’t violate antitrust laws.

And the facts seem to support that decision. According to a report released in January by RBC Capital Markets, generic drug companies prevailed in 76% of cases that included settlements, but only in 48% of cases that went to trial. Meanwhile, according to a report released the same month by securities and investment banking firm Jefferies & Co., on average, patent settlements result in generic launch three years before patent expiration. Legally, a generic drug company must launch its version of a drug before or at the time of patent expiration.

While patent settlements often involve some type of monetary transaction, in many cases, the “pay” is in the form of a promise by the branded drug company not to launch an authorized generic, which is the branded drug sold under its generic name at a lower price. Under the Hatch-Waxman Act, the first generic drug maker to launch a knockoff of a branded drug is entitled to six months in which to compete directly with the branded version, but the authorized generic allows the branded drug maker to undercut the generic drug maker by marketing a supposedly “generic” version of its own.

Authorized generics have seen a bit of a pickup as well, and more activity on that front can be expected. On Tuesday, Greenstone, the generics arm of Pfizer, announced that it would create a new business called the Authorized Generics Alliance in order to market authorized generics under the Greenstone label.

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Type 2 diabetes linked with cognitive impairments, study shows

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON A small study conducted by Canadian researchers found factors that may link Type 2 diabetes with such cognitive impairments as dementia.

Older adults with diabetes who also have high blood pressure, walk slowly or lose their balance, or believe they’re in bad health, are more likely to have poorer cognitive functions than those without these problems, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada and published in the September issue of Neuropsychology

The study of older Canadians — 41 adults with Type 2 diabetes, ages 55 to 81 years, and 458 matched healthy controls (ages 53 to 90 years) — found that systolic blood pressure, a low combination score for gait and balance, and a patient’s own reports of poor health all played a statistically significant role in the relationship between diabetes and cognitive impairment.

“Awareness of the link between diabetes and cognition could help people realize how important it is to manage this disease, and to motivate them to do so,” said co-author Roger Dixon, PhD, of the University of Alberta.

Type 2 diabetes has been found by other researchers to nearly double the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, said Dixon, who studies how health affects cognition in aging. As diabetes becomes more common, this heightened risk could dramatically hike the number of older people with dementia.

The prevalence of diabetes in the United States for people older than age 60 — according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases — is more than 23%, while Canadian prevalence is nearly 19%, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

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