HEALTH

Rexall’s efforts sure to pay off

BY Jim Frederick

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT Leave it to our creative retail neighbors to the north to find a fun way to merchandise over-the-counter products and wellness.

(THE NEWS: In sweeping overhaul of its retail mission, Rexall unveils ‘Healthy Living’ prototype. For the full story, click here)

The flagship Rexall division of Canadian drug store giant Katz Group has spent two years crafting a new and appealing approach to the retailing of preventive health products and services and the management of chronic disease. And Tuesday, Rexall Healthy Living Pharmacy was ready for its close-up.

Rexall execs and planners proudly displayed the results of that two-year effort Oct. 19, with a media walk-through at the company’s 16,000-sq.-ft. prototype Healthy Living store in the Toronto suburb of Milton, Ontario. Five top Rexall managers — including CEO Andy Giancamilli, COO Warren Jeffery, marketing and advertising chief Denise Darragh, chief merchant Ron Lalla and Tracey Phillips, head of pharmacy services, marketing and supply — gave Drug Store News an exclusive, nearly hour-long interview to explain the evolution of the new concept and its goals.

Much like what is happening in the United States, the Canadian healthcare system is under duress as costs continue to skyrocket and physicians are overwhelmed by patient caseloads. The new Rexall concept, said ex-pat and former Kmart COO Giancamilli, will “bridge the gap” between patient and doctor by offering up accessible, community-based care by specially trained pharmacists, wellness advisers and skin care experts, and by giving shoppers and patients the information they need to make more informed decisions about products, health services and healthier modes of living.

It’s a tall order. But Rexall’s pharmacy and merchandising teams have labored to make the six Healthy Living pilot stores fun and informative, with interactive kiosks and “health information touch points” scattered throughout the store to guide purchases and provide advice. And among the roughly 20 Rexall employees who staff each of those stores is a healthy living advisor, installed in a specially marked “focal point” station near the front of the store to guide customers through each department.

Rexall called each of the advisers “a specially trained health and customer experience ambassador,” and said they will be key to the expansion of the Healthy Living concept to more stores going forward [including a seventh prototype store, set to open in Kelowna, B.C., in spring 2011]. But the advisers won’t act alone: They’ll be part of “an increased level of interactivity between store staff and customers … throughout the store, including in the Skin Health area,” according to the company.

Also new: Interactive terminals where patients can use touchscreen technology for information on health topics, disease, prevention and OTC medicines.

The goal: to “help Canadians live their healthiest” and “inspire them to take charge of their health,” Lalla said. That means elevating Rexall’s image and draw as a health-and-wellness destination, and building on its already strong links with family physicians.

Some 150 stores within the Katz Group’s 1,800-store retail network across Canada are already linked with doctors’ offices; in some cases, those primary-care physician practices are even housed within the store as walk-in clinics. The partnership likely will expand as the country looks for new solutions to its own healthcare crisis.

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Report: FDA may consider strengthening generic drug regulations

BY Alaric DeArment

BETHESDA, Md. The Food and Drug Administration could decide that some generic drugs are not equivalent to their branded counterparts, according to published reports.

 

Bloomberg reported FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research director Janet Woodcock as saying in an interview that the agency was considering strengthening regulations on some generic drugs because some did not appear to work as well as the branded versions, based on statements from some patients and generic drug company employees. Woodcock had just given a speech at a technical conference organized by the FDA and the Generic Pharmaceutical Association.

 

 

In 2008, controversy arose amid anecdotal reports that patients taking generic drugs for epilepsy had experienced breakthrough seizures that they had not experienced while taking the branded versions of the drugs. That gave rise to the introduction of generic “carve-out” legislation in 35 states that would have placed restrictions on when a generic drug can be used, though only three of them passed.

 

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Centrum invites women to ‘take back’ time

BY Allison Cerra

MADISON, N.J. Multivitamin maker Centrum is encouraging women to pledge an hour toward an activity that is important to them.

According to a recent Centrum survey, 3-out-of-4 women don’t have enough time in the day to do everything they would like. In response to this, Centrum has launched a new website, LoveFeelingHealthy.com, which gives women the opportunity to win prizes that allow them "take back" time to do something they love. The site also offers users the ability to download a coupon for $3 off their next purchase of Centrum Women’s or Centrum Men’s vitamins to help achieve better health and energy to enjoy life. The promotion is in line with daylight saving time, which occurs on Nov. 7.

"Our survey shows that women’s lifestyles are suffering from lack of energy and time. We know that it’s important for women to live healthy and well-balanced lifestyles so they can do all the activities on their to-do lists," said Tiffany McLaud, franchise lead for dietary supplements at Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, maker of Centrum. "Centrum, along with a healthy lifestyle, can help women find the energy to enjoy life to the fullest."

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