HEALTH

Over-the-counter home conception kit proven efficacious

BY Michael Johnsen

PITTSBURGH — A clinical study demonstrates that The Stork OTC is more effective at delivering sperm to the cervix than natural intercourse when trying to get pregnant. The peer-reviewed, post-coital sperm assessment study was performed over a 10-month period by study author Michael Pelekanos, and is published in the Surgical Technology International
 
The Stork OTC, the only FDA-cleared, over-the-counter home conception kit using cervical cap insemination, is clinically shown to deliver a higher concentration of sperm directly to the cervix compared to natural intercourse.
 
The study was an efficacy study designed to compare the number of sperm in the cervical mucus both with the use of The Stork OTC home conception kit and natural intercourse. Post-coital test data was collected after participants used both the Stork OTC home conception kit and the natural intercourse method to evaluate concentrations of sperm in the cervical mucus.
 
The results are promising for the one-in-six U.S. couples having difficulty conceiving with intercourse alone. “We were very excited to see the study results confirm that The Stork OTC delivers a significantly higher sperm concentration to the cervix,” said Stephen Bollinger, president and CEO of Rinovum Women’s Health. “With the new data demonstrating the efficacy of the Stork OTC in aiding conception compared to natural intercourse, couples trying to get pregnant now have a safe, clinically validated option to optimize their chances with the Stork OTC.”
 
In 85% of study subjects, the Stork OTC delivered a 3.23x higher value of sperm concentration at the cervix compared to the value of sperm concentration with natural intercourse.
 
The remaining 15% of study subjects saw no change in sperm concentration between The Stork OTC and natural intercourse.
 
The kit provides a way for the user to collect, insert and deliver the sperm directly at the opening of the cervix, and keeps it at the cervix for longer, giving sperm the opportunity to enter into the uterus. Considering most sperm never make it through the vaginal tract, the Stork OTC’s applicator provides a simple and safe way for the user to bypass the normally unfavorable vaginal environment, to deliver the sperm. Cervical cap insemination has documented success rates between 10% and 20%, similar to in-clinic intrauterine insemination success rates (16%-21%).
 
 
 
 
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17th Annual DSN Industry Issues Summit again delivers premium insights

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — Attendees of the 17th Annual DSN Industry Issues Summit were treated both to critical insights into how to better succeed in the retail pharmacy space and real talk on the challenges and opportunities facing health and wellness merchants. The importance behind creating a personalized patient experience, employing technology to enable more interventions between pharmacist provider and patients and the value within localized product assortments were just a few of the insights trending througout the day. 
 
Attendance at the event — presented by Drug Store News — reached record levels, with 40 retailers and more than 240 supplier participants. Each of the all-star panels featured many of the top minds in pharmacy retailing as they candidly discussed the ins and outs of what's shaping the business and midway through Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia, gave a colorful, no-holds-barred assessment of how companies are not optimizing their advertising spends through topically-relevant venues like social media. 
 
The all-day event was held at Manhattan’s historic New York Athletic Club, located directly across the street from Central Park.
 
“Thank you for making this event one of the most successful ones to date,” Wayne Bennett, group publisher of the Drug Store News Group, told attendees in closing the day's events. “Echoing some of the comments from the panel, why is this event successful? It's successful because most everyone in this room is very passionate about the industry and what they do," he said. "And it's the intellectual capacity [of everyone here] to want to learn more.”
 
The day started with the Health, Wellness and Technology panel discussion moderated by Chris Dimos of McKesson. Personalization of the consumer experience and investing in streamlining workflow were two hot topics for the morning. Retailer panelists included:
 
  • Josh Flum, CVS Health;
  • Tim Weippert, Thrifty White Pharmacy;
  • Craig Norman, HEB;
  • Rick Gates, Walgreens;
  • Brandon Worth, Walmart;
  • Frank Maione, Perceptimed;
  • Jocelyn Konrad, Rite Aid;
  • Philecia Avery, Kroger;
  • Kahn Siddiqui, Higi; and
  • Jeff Key, Pioneer Rx.
“What are the largest operational challenges that you're trying to solve for today?” asked Dimos.
 
Retailers are facing an ever-changing regulatory environment, an evolving health consumer dynamic and a heightened expectation of service all under the pressure of tighter margins, one panelist noted. Improving adherence and establishing an appointment-based pharmacy model, vs. transactional, represent opportunities going forward, another panelist noted. 
 
The second panel, this year renamed Chronic Care & Retail Health Retailers in recognition of the fact that retail pharmacy helps manage a number of medical conditions beyond diabetes, was moderated by Dave Wendland of Hamacher Resource Group. Panelists included:
 
  • John DeJames, Giant Eagle;
  • Alissa Lynch, Johnson & Johnson;
  • Dan Miller, Rite Aid;
  • Paul Murphy, Menasha;
  • Darren Singer, Shopko;
  • Michael Wolf, Walgreens;
  • Matt Rutledge, MD Labs;
  • Michael Mastromonica, Costco;
  • Rachelle Landry, BD Medical;
  • Leon Nevers, HEB;
  • Tony Willoughby, Health Mart/McKesson; and
  • Michael LaMotta, Novo Nordisk.
 
“What is the magnitude of the task to manage chronic disease states?” asked Wendland.
 
"It's a daunting task that gets harder every year because of our aging population and diseases that haven't been mitigated," noted one panelist. "The industry needs to figure out a way to connect dots, because that's what our patients need and want. That's what I try to do everyday with great pharmacists, great opticians, great technicians."
 
And moderator Dan Mack of Elevation Forum wrapped up the panel discussions and capped off the day with the power-packed Industry Issues Summit. During this discussion, retailers discussed what they look for in supplier partners, and the ways in which suppliers can drive mutual value to that partnership. Retailer panelists included:
 
  • Robert Tompkins, Walgreens;
  • Maryann Herskowitz, Family Dollar;
  • Chris Skyers, Wakefern;
  • George Coleman, CVS Health;
  • Annie Walker, Walmart;
  • Bill Bergin, Rite Aid; and
  • Doug Stukenborg, Target. 
“The three things that block higher-level growth, is you're not picking the right partners,” said Mack, kicking off the discussion. “[You're] not building a culture that's very distinct [and] you're not hiring people with a growth mindset.”
 
Mack and his panel addressed several questions on how to maximize growth potential at retail, including balancing boomers with millennial merchandising strategies, optimizing value and premium product solutions and addressing localization challenges. 
 
Sponsors of the event included: AccentHealth, Ateb, BD Medical, Boehringer Ingelheim, Catalina, Emerson Group, GlaxoSmithKline, higi, Hyland's, i-Health, Johnson & Johnson, MD Labs, Menasha, Novo Nordisk, Perceptimed, Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, Pharmavite, Pioneer Rx, Takeda, Unilever, USNutrition and Workplace Impact. 
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Q&A: J&J’s Alissa Hsu Lynch talks about partnering with retailers on health and wellness

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — Drug Store News recently had an opportunity to sit down with Alissa Hsu Lynch, VP sales strategy, operations and global capabilities at Johnson & Johnson Consumer to discuss how J&J is optimizing its health-and-wellness position in retail. Hsu Lynch leads the strategic development of key retail initiatives across J&J's $6 billion portfolio of consumer brands and is a 2013 Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute. 

DSN: How is J&J delivering value within the health-and-wellness space to its retailer customers?

Alissa Hsu Lynch: We all know that the healthcare landscape is changing rapidly.  Our population is aging, chronic diseases are on the rise and healthcare reform is changing the way health care is delivered for consumers. We see a huge opportunity for retailers to play a much bigger role as part of the overall healthcare system, addressing gaps in care and engaging with consumers in their local neighborhoods to drive better behaviors to improve health outcomes.

Johnson & Johnson is a global leader in health care with a broad portfolio across pharmaceuticals, medical devices and iconic consumer brands, so we’re uniquely positioned to view a patient’s journey across their entire continuum of care.  We’ve shifted our lens to view the individual as a whole, recognizing that the patient in the hospital or doctor’s office is the same individual that is in the retail environment to have prescriptions filled, buy other health-related items or meet their other household needs.

We’re very excited to be partnering with our retail customers to share our knowledge, test new business models and services and help deliver new health-and-wellness solutions for their shoppers.

DSN: What core consumer segments do you see as key to your health-and-wellness strategy?

Hsu Lynch: We believe that there are two main areas to focus on — acute and chronic.  There is a significant difference between the two, where the acute issue can be viewed as an “episode of care” with reasonably defined beginning and end points.  The other is chronic, where the patient/consumer has ongoing needs that must be served to ensure that individual’s health is optimized.  Within both acute and chronic health needs, we’re approaching the conditions to offer broad-based solutions that cover the breadth of the issue.  This requires us to include category/condition level solutions — not just those that a Johnson & Johnson product can address.
 
At this point in our journey, we are focused on five key areas to partner and co-create with our retailers:  Diabetes — creating a comprehensive Diabetes Care solution; Pre/Post Surgery — supporting patients through their surgical episode; Caregiving — how to help the caregiver with their role as Chief Care Officer for their family; Community Health — expanding access to health education and services for under-served communities; and Professional Education & Training — preparing the retail health team for their future roles.

DSN: How is the Affordable Care Act affecting your growth plans?

Hsu Lynch: The ACA has enabled more consumers to have access to health care, which has created a greater need for providers to deliver that care.  But with the current shortage of physicians in the United States (there’s a projected shortage of 300,000 doctors by the year 2020), where will consumers go to meet their healthcare needs?  We see retail clinics and the in-store healthcare professional as a big opportunity for growth, as they offer convenience and access at a potentially lower cost for consumers, and we’re working with our retail partners to pilot a number of initiatives focused on both acute and chronic care.  With our broad portfolio as well as reach and relationships with healthcare providers and systems, we have the potential to deliver solutions that will address the “Triple Aim” — better outcomes at a lower cost with higher patient satisfaction.  Ultimately, our goal is to help consumers live longer, healthier and happier lives.

DSN: How is technology changing the way you engage with patients and consumers?

Hsu Lynch: The rapid advance of technology and its ubiquitous nature is allowing us to tap into assets and knowledge that Johnson & Johnson has, and build platforms that will address the patients’ needs throughout their journey — whether it be for such chronic conditions as diabetes or episodes of care like a hip or knee replacement.
 
In addition, we have an entire operating company that is staffed with behavioral scientists and exercise physiologists.  That team has a deep understanding of how the human mind works and what it takes to create a sustained behavior change — the nirvana end state for many preventable conditions.  Technology enables the delivery of algorithmically generated patient coaching modules that tailor care to an individual’s mindset and adjusts based on how they respond during their engagement.  

A great example of this is the Johnson & Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout App which is a fast, simple, science-based way to work out anywhere, anytime. Designed by Chris Jordan, director of exercise physiology at the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute, the workout has helped over 1.4 million people get the most out of every minute.  Through our partnership with Walgreens, the app is being offered as part of the Balance Rewards for Healthy Choices program to reward shoppers with loyalty points every time they exercise.

DSN: How are you aligning your company’s assets to match the go-to market strategy of large integrated retail healthcare providers?

Hsu Lynch: As the mode of healthcare delivery continues to evolve, we are working internally to bring the various teams together to “connect the dots” for the patient along their journey.  We have expertise with payers, providers and retailers where patients fill prescriptions and purchase other household healthcare needs.  Our teams are starting to work together to ensure that the patient has the right resources, at the right point in their journey — in essence, a coordinated care model.

DSN: What key insight do you want your retail partners to know about the future of health care?

Hsu Lynch: From our point of view and knowledge of the shifting environment, the retail setting will be at the forefront of healthcare delivery.  We are already seeing seismic shifts that have signaled that we are past the beginnings of this new mode of healthcare delivery.  We are seeing pharmacists elevate their level of practice to include the administration of immunizations.  This is just the beginning. As legislation continues to move through the government, we expect that the role of the pharmacist will continue to evolve to allow the pharmacist population to practice to the top limits of their education and training.  In addition, with the projected shortage of physicians, the rise of the health clinic will continue to expand — whether a retail clinic or urgent care facility.  There will need to be partnerships that are created to optimize the delivery of patient care.  We believe there are a number of parties that need to be involved to maximize the benefit to patients.  These partnerships should include the provider, the payer and the appropriate retailer.  This will allow for more personalization and customization in the delivery of care that will generate better outcomes.  No single entity will be able to go it alone in the future.  Johnson & Johnson is ideally suited to be the company of choice, given our broad portfolio that includes medical devices, pharmaceuticals, consumer products and services that enhance the patients’ experience and outcome on their journey.
 

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