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PhRMA: Americans more health-conscious, report higher costs

BY David Salazar

Washington — The second annual health survey by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America shows that Americans are more conscious of their health, and believe their own health is good. However, a majority of respondents report paying more for health care than in previous years.

According to the survey of about 1,200 adults conducted earlier this summer, two-thirds of respondents reported that they had a great or good year when it came to their personal health, which is slightly higher than the 61% who said the same thing last year. However, only about 20% of people said it had been a good year for the average American’s health, with 48% saying it had been OK.

“While Americans are optimistic about their own health and that of their families, they are significantly less positive about the health of the nation as a whole,” Hart Research Associates president Geoff Garin said. “These findings reveal a disconnect in perceptions of how Americans view themselves and that of the average American in the context of today’s rapidly evolving healthcare system.”

PhRMA points out that people also are paying more attention to their health, with 58% of people overall reporting they pay more attention to their health now than a few years ago. That number is highest among African Americans surveyed, with 68% reporting they’re more aware of their health now.

People also are turning more to sources outside the doctor’s office, with 78% reporting they look for outside information. Of these, 57%report that health and medical websites are the second-most used source of health information besides physicians. A quarter of them turn to pharmacists.

There are, however, a couple of less encouraging trends pointed out in the survey. One is that there is confusion about the health benefits of vaccines. Some 29% of those surveyed think the claim that vaccines cause autism in children has some degree of truth to it — 4% said it’s definitely true, while a quarter said that it’s probably true, despite it not being supported by scientific research.

When it comes to the cost of health care, 68% of African Americans, 60% of Hispanics and 57% of whites said they’re paying more for health care now than they were before. Among Hispanics, 35% reported the cost of going to a doctor as a very big obstacle to dong so, a sentiment shared by 25% of African Americans and 23% of whites.

 “It’s crucial to keep the patient at the center of the health care dialogue in order to improve health outcomes in America,” PhRMA president and CEO John J. Castellani said.

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Supervalu notifies customers of data breach

BY Ryan Chavis

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Supervalu announced that it experienced an intrusion into the part of its computer network responsible for processing payment card transactions. The company's retail food stores and some of its associated stand-alone liquor stores were affected by the breach.

The criminal intrusion may have resulted in theft of account numbers as well as expiration dates and other private information from payment cards. There's no evidence that any misuse of the data occurred, but the company said its making the announcement to be cautious. Immediate action was taken to secure the affected parts of the payment network.

“The safety of our customers’ personal information is a top priority for us,” said president and CEO Sam Duncan. “The intrusion was identified by our internal team, it was quickly contained, and we have had no evidence of any misuse of any customer data. I regret any inconvenience that this may cause our customers but want to assure them that it is safe to shop in our stores.”

Supervalu said it has made federal law enforcement authorities aware of the situation and is cooperating in their efforts to investigate the breach and identify those responsible.

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Coca-Cola and Monster Energy announce strategic partnership

BY Mike Troy

ATLANTA — The Coca-Cola Co. plans to acquire a 16.7% interest in Monster Beverage Corp. in a partnership arrangement involving brands, global distribution and $2.15 billion in cash.

The companies entered into a long-term strategic partnership designed to leverage their respective strengths — Coke’s worldwide bottling system and Monster’s expertise in the energy segment of the beverage category — to accelerate growth globally.

In addition to acquiring a 16.7% interest in Monster for $2.15 billion, Coca-Cola will gain two seats on Monster’s board of directors and the companies will engage in a brand swap. Coca-Cola will transfer ownership of its worldwide energy business and such brands as NOS, Full Throttle, Burn, Mother, Play and Power Play, and Relentless, to Monster. In return, Monster will transfer its non-energy business — including Hansen’s Natural Sodas, Peace Tea, Hubert’s Lemonade and Hansen’s Juice Products — to Coca-Cola.

The intent of the brand exchange is to align product portfolios and enable those portfolios to benefit from each company’s respective brand marketing, production and distribution strengths and optimize the parties’ capital and resource allocation, according to the companies.

Another key aspect of the deal relates to distribution: Coca-Cola will become Monster’s preferred distribution partner globally and Monster will become Coca-Cola’s exclusive energy play.

“The Coca-Cola Co. continues to identify innovative approaches to partnerships that enable us to stay at the forefront of consumer trends in the beverage industry,” said Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola. “Our equity investment in Monster is a capital efficient way to bolster our participation in the fast-growing and attractive global energy drinks category.”

Kent added that, “Monster has been an important part of our global system since 2008, so we have experienced first-hand Monster’s performance-driven and entrepreneurial culture, proven success in building and extending the Monster brand and their strong product innovation pipeline.”

Monster chairman and CEO Rodney Sacks characterized the deal as a unique opportunity for the company to drive global growth.

“We gain enhanced access to the Coca-Cola Co.’s distribution system, the most powerful and extensive system in the world. At the same time, we become the Coca-Cola Co.’s exclusive energy play, with a robust portfolio led by our Monster Energy line and the Coca-Cola Co.’s energy brands,” Sacks said. “Our business will be bolstered by the Coca-Cola Co. energy brands we will acquire, providing us with complementary energy product offerings in many geographies, as well as access to new channels, including vending and specialty accounts.”

By leveraging Coca-Cola’s global distribution and bottling system, Monster vice chairman and president Hilton Schlosberg said Monster’s position as one of the world’s leading energy beverage companies would be greatly enhanced, producing myriad benefits for shareholders.

“We expect the transaction to significantly accelerate our growth and results of operations internationally, and we plan to review all options available to return a substantial amount of cash to our shareholders,” Schlosberg said.

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