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Paternity, STD test kits offer what doctors can’t: privacy

BY Michael Johnsen

Identigene, the first company to bring at-home paternity test kits to retail, recently launched another trailblazing at-home test kit: Identigene’s STD test.

The new test kit—which tests for the two most prominent bacterial STDs, chlamydia and gonorrhea, and retails for $19.99—represents an appealing option for consumers, many of whom are hesitant to discuss STDs with their doctors. For example, in a three-year study of 500 women published earlier this year in Obstetrics & Gynecology, of the participants who received free birth control, free STD testing and free STD treatment, more than 40% of the women in the study did not follow through on an annual screening for chlamydia and gonorrhea.

“Consumers are becoming more comfortable purchasing all manner of healthcare products in pharmacies,” noted Steve Smith, Identigene director of marketing. “We see four key drivers of this trend,” he said, including a shortage in family care physicians, the prominence of uninsured and under-insured consumers, and a growing realization among consumers that prevention costs less than treatment. In addition, Smith noted that the burgeoning retail clinic business within retail pharmacy is creating awareness among consumers that pharmacy is a destination for healthcare solutions.

According to another survey of 302 women presented before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2010 National STD Prevention Conference earlier this year, women—who have a greater risk for STDs as compared with men—were uncomfortable seeking STD testing from a male healthcare provider (88%). Almost two-thirds of the women reported anxiety about testing, and 31% reported concern about STD results appearing in their medical records.

And while a diagnostic test often is required to detect chlamydia and gonorrhea, one-third of women believed that these infections could be diagnosed solely by visual inspection, and one-quarter thought that a Pap smear could detect either STD.

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Assured sees high rise in same-store sales

BY Alaric DeArment

FRISCO, Texas September same-store sales at Assured Pharmacy increased by 13.5% compared with last year, the specialty pharmacy provider said Thursday.

Assured, which specializes in treating chronic pain, said sales were $1.4 million, or around $66,253 per business day, compared with $1.23 million a year ago.

“We are pleased with our September sales results and our continued patient growth, with 3,064 patients serviced in the month of September,” CEO Robert DelVecchio said. “As these sales figures reflect, we remain on track for increased sales and market share growth, improved earnings at the store level and stronger cash flow.”

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Retailers, drug makers can help cut diabetes rate

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT The dramatic rise in the prevalence of diabetes over the next several decades is likely to place huge strains on the U.S. healthcare system, costing the country hundreds of billions of dollars every year. It also means the diabetes market will continue to be a hot bed for innovation for decades to come.

(THE NEWS: Diabetes prevalence among Americans may increase to 33%, CDC study finds. For the full story, click here)

Barring a cure for the disease or a dramatic reversal of current trends, the plague of Type 2 diabetes is likely to get worse and account for numerous hospitalizations, as it already does. According to the government Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, nearly 1-in-5 U.S. hospitalizations in 2008 were related to diabetes, with the greatest concentration in the South.

No individual, company or even government agency can reverse the trend on its own, but many — including retailers — can help. And that will continue to feed a frenzy of activity in this space.

Agrowing number of supermarkets across the country have used various means to promote healthy eating, ranging from easy-to-read nutritional rating systems to in-store nutrition experts and store tours. Meanwhile, pharmacists and retail clinicians, as healthcare providers, can use their expertise to spread awareness as well. Rite Aid stores will offer free Diabetes Solutions Days events Nov. 2 through 4.

Health insurer Anthem Blue Cross has won recognition for a pilot diabetes program, “Bridging Cultural Health Care Gaps: Diabetes,” which seeks to find culturally appropriate ways to communicate about diabetes to African-American and Hispanic members. Anthem conducted the pilot among 4,000 of its members in California and Georgia, and plans to expand the program to other states. 

More of these localized types of efforts — borne out of the spirit of the Ashville Project — continue to arise.

And of course, manufacturers continue to lead the innovation, and many are going beyond just products. Novo Nordisk recently released the BlueSheet, a report that promotes awareness and education in the prevention and treatment of diabetes.

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