ReportersNotebook — Chain Pharmacy, 10/15/12
SUPPLIER NEWS — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a drug made by Acton Pharmaceuticals for asthma, the company said. The drug maker announced the approval of Aerospan (flunisolide HFA) inhalation aerosol as a maintenance treatment for asthma in patients ages 6 years and older. The drug maker plans to launch the drug in early 2013. Asthma affects more than 24 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and healthcare market research firm IMS Health estimated the market for inhaled steroids to be worth $8.3 billion.
Drug maker Vivus has released what it called the first new drug in 13 years for chronic weight management in adults. The company announced the availability of Qsymia (phentermine and topiramate) extended-release capsules, which it is formally introducing to medical professionals at the Obesity Society’s annual scientific meeting in San Antonio. The drug, which is classified as a schedule IV controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration, has a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy, or REMS. In addition to a medication guide, healthcare provider training, patient brochure and other educational materials, the drug is only available through certified mail-order pharmacies that are part of the Qsymia Home Delivery Network, including CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens.
A subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson is hoping to gain FDA approval for a new formulation of one of its drugs. Janssen Biotech announced that it had filed an application with the FDA seeking approval for an intravenous formulation of Simponi (golimumab) in adults with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis, which affects an estimated 1.5 million Americans. The FDA approved the subcutaneously injected formulation of Simponi in April 2009 for moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis, active psoriatic arthritis and active ankylosing spondylitis.
FlavoRx: Taste of meds boosts loyalty
A two-part study by the Temple University School of Pharmacy and market research firm WilsonRx found the availability of custom flavoring for children’s medications boosted customer satisfaction and loyalty. The study, consisting of an intercept survey of 200 mothers at Philadelphia and New Jersey drug stores and a review of a WilsonRx mail survey of 34,454 customers, found that 50% of parents were very or extremely likely to recommend a pharmacy that actively informed them about flavoring services, while 7% were not.
At the same time, 52% of respondents to the survey said they didn’t know whether their pharmacies offered the services, compared with 6% who said their pharmacies didn’t offer them and 42% who said they did. Meanwhile, according to medication flavoring maker FlavoRx, only 3% of medications that can have flavoring added actually do.
But those stores without flavoring or that don’t promote it could be seriously missing out. The study found that a store could gain 16 to 24 new customers per year and generate between $51,000 and $78,000 in new business by promoting a custom-flavoring service.
The line in “Mary Poppins” about “just a spoonful of sugar” contains a grain of truth. According to the intercept survey, 79% of children complained about medication tasting too bad to take, and about 85% of interviewed subjects said the taste of liquid medicine is somewhat or very important to them and to their children.
Retailers, suppliers address diabetes at community level
Diabetes is one of the country’s most serious public health crises, and it will likely remain so for some time. According to the American Diabetes Association, 25.8 million Americans now have the disease, with another 79 million at risk, and most of those with the disease have Type 2 diabetes — the kind that results from lifestyle choices.
But half of “public health” is “public,” and recent efforts by retailers and suppliers have sought to combat the disease at the community level.
Last month, Danish drug maker Novo Nordisk announced it would donate $100,000 to organizations in Milwaukee and Madison, Wis., to local programs that educate people with Type 2 diabetes. The effort is part of the company’s Novo Nordisk Community Care program, which donated $415,000 last year to more than 20 programs in Atlanta, Minneapolis, Boston and Philadelphia, saying the programs were chosen for their unique, education-focused content and resources for patients, which include interactive workshops and material for underserved and minority populations. “More than 432,000 Wisconsin residents were faced with diabetes in 2010,” Novo Nordisk executive director of communications Lori Moore said. “As an industry leader, Novo Nordisk is committed to reversing the trend of the diabetes crisis. We recognize that community-based organizations play a critical role in providing diabetes education and care that can help defeat this disease.”
And in August, the University of Chicago Medicine and Walgreens announced “Food Rx,” a program aimed at promoting healthy eating that was created by people with diabetes and also seeks to address limited access and affordability of healthy food. The program is part of the university’s Improving Diabetes Care and Outcomes on the South Side of Chicago and allows diabetes patients who visit any of the program’s six clinics to receive a checklist of their doctors’ food recommendations and coupons for $5 off $20 of healthy food purchased at participating Walgreens stores, as well as $3 vouchers for a farmers market that takes place every week in the city’s Woodlawn neighborhood.
Also in August, Sam’s Club announced it would offer more than $150 worth of diabetes screenings for free, including glucose tests, A1C tests and vision tests, while also offering diabetes lifestyle management and prevention tips in issues of the Healthy Living Made Simple magazine that it distributes to members.