Q&A: OTC value grows
Drug Store News caught up with Consumer Healthcare Products Association president Linda Suydam for her take on the business of over-the-counter medicines in 2008.
DrSN: What is the state of the OTC industry today?
Suydam: OTC medicines continue to play an increasingly significant role in the health and well-being of Americans. As the industry’s role continues to grow, we are seeing more scrutiny from our regulators, legislators and the media. Despite some of the challenges that come with that scrutiny, however, we are strong and continue to thrive. All of the challenges we’ve faced in the last year have made us stronger. Our member companies understand the importance of a united front and a common purpose. Overall, the state of the OTC industry is good. We continue to grow the market, and consumers continue to value the medicines that they have relied on.
DrSN: What are the top three initiatives that CHPA will be pursuing this year?
Suydam: It’s too difficult to single out only three initiatives with so many new and exciting endeavors under way. One of our top priorities continues to be strengthening science through new research and technologies. Currently, we are engaged in pharmacokinetic studies to confirm correct dosing for pediatric cough-cold medicines, and are also committed to doing efficacy studies in children to reaffirm the efficacy of children’s cough-cold medicines.
Of equal importance are our efforts to educate consumers. Through our educational foundation—which has an updated look [with] OTCsafety.org—we are working to provide the most comprehensive and up-to-date information for consumers on the safe and appropriate use of OTC medicines. In addition, aside from our efforts on Capitol Hill supporting federal age restrictions of cough medicine, as well as restrictions on the sale of the unfinished, raw form of dextromethorphan, we are continuing to raise awareness in communities nationwide about the dangers of cough-medicine abuse.
DrSN: What challenges lay ahead for the industry this year?
Suydam: Recently, we’ve seen our share of challenges both from a regulatory perspective [and] from Capitol Hill. Efforts are already under way to address some of the specific concerns raised by [Rep.] Henry Waxman, [D-Calif.], and Sen. Ted Kennedy, [D-Mass.], regarding the Food and Drug Administration’s regulation of OTC medicines. We are also expanding our efforts beyond those offices by actively educating congressional offices about the robust safety and effectiveness review the FDA has conducted for all OTC medicines.
While we are currently waiting for further direction from FDA on the issues surrounding oral pediatric cough-cold medicines, we know that challenges lie ahead. We continue to stand behind the safety and efficacy of these medicines, but recognize that a renewed examination is warranted.
MinuteClinic moves forward with Massachusetts plans
MINNEAPOLIS MinuteClinic, a clinic operator owned by CVS Caremark, has applied for its first 10 clinic sites in Massachusetts and expects the opening dates to be in late summer to early fall.
As previously reported by Drug Store News, in January, state health officials approved regulations allowing for limited service medical clinics, marking the end of a long review process that included two public hearings and the submission of hundreds of pages of testimony regarding the regulations.
MinuteClinic stated that it is working with the Massachusetts Department of Health and “is confident that the sites meet the regulatory requirements and will receive approval to move forward.”
The new in-store clinics are planned for CVS stores in Ashland, Beverly, Bridgewater, Danvers, Medford, Medway, Stoughton, Taunton, Tewkesbury and Westford.
The sites are the first of a total of 25 to 30 the company expects to open in Massachusetts by the end of 2008.
Hallmark exits online flower and gift business
KANSAS CITY, Mo. Hallmark is exiting the online gift and flower business, citing a less-than-acceptable return on investment. The move will result in the loss of about 100 jobs at its corporate headquarters and distribution center in Memphis, Tenn., though Hallmark said it would try to find new jobs in the company for those workers.
Hallmark started its online flower business in 2001 and its online and catalog gift and decor business in 2005. The decision will not affect its online business for greeting cards and stationery. A company spokeswoman said Hallmark decided to shutter the flower and gift divisions after determining they “couldn’t guarantee the results we needed.”