HEALTH

Rite Aid announces plans for its allergy healthcare platform

BY Michael Johnsen

CAMP HILL, Pa. Rite Aid on Tuesday geared up for its allergy healthcare platform, which will be featured at stores during April and May, the chain announced.

“Rite Aid is committed to offering our patients the programs, resources and support to help them live healthier, happier lives,” stated John Learish, senior vice president of marketing. “At Rite Aid, our pharmacists are able to give patients recommendations on how to alleviate their allergy symptoms and help them find the best relief possible this allergy season.”

As part of the program, Rite Aid has published an 11-page Allergy Guide, free to customers, that features information on how to avoid and treat allergies along with a pamphlet on how to manage indoor and outdoor allergies. Rite Aid created the guides in collaboration with the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the largest professional medical specialty organization in the United States dedicated to advancing the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology.

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N.Y. health commissioner petitions FDA on behalf of nicotine-replacement therapies

BY Michael Johnsen

ALBANY, N.Y. The New York State health commissioner Richard Daines is currently pursuing a citizen’s petition with the Food and Drug Administration to sell nicotine-replacement therapies in single-dose convenient packs in an effort to make NRT products more competitive with cigarettes.

“We challenge the FDA to rethink its policies regarding nicotine replacement therapy,” Daines stated. “Under the current system, a smoker generally cannot buy safe nicotine in the same store where cigarettes are sold, and, even though most smokers buy cigarettes one day at a time, those who purchase safe nicotine must buy a one- or two-week supply costing $20 to $40. New York’s petition sets in motion a process requiring the FDA to critically examine how these products are now sold to smokers and how we can make them more readily available.”

“Many smokers are confused about the safety of nicotine patches, gum and lozenges, mistakenly believing that nicotine causes cancer or that patches are more likely than cigarettes to cause a heart attack,” noted Gary Giovino, professor of Health Behavior at the University of Buffalo. “By educating consumers and making these products more widely available, smokers will begin to see them as real alternatives to cigarettes and a product they can use to quit smoking altogether.”

Specifically, New York is petitioning the FDA to allow the sale of over-the-counter NRT products in all retail locations where cigarettes are sold, including convenience stores, gas stations, tobacco specialty stores, grocery stores, and other retail businesses that sell tobacco; to allow OTC NRT to be sold in “daily” units (containing an amount of NRT that would typically be consumed in a 24-hour period) at prices competitive with one 20-count pack of cigarettes and allow OTC NRT to be advantageously positioned near cigarettes and other tobacco products to promote the sale of OTC NRT products; and to modify labeling requirements to fully disclose to smokers the benefits of OTC NRT use relative to continued cigarette use, with risks associated with OTC NRT compared to risks associated with continued cigarette use.

The FDA has until the end of July to respond.

Anti-smoking products generated $495.4 million, down 1.8 percent across food, drug and mass (minus Wal-Mart) channels, according to the Nielsen Group for the 52 weeks ending Feb. 23. New convenience-oriented NRT products would arguably help bolsters sales for the category, especially, as the New York Commissioner predicts, that the new convenience offering would attract new users to the category.

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Pharmavite sponsors free downloads of Oprah’s online class

BY Michael Johnsen

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. Beginning today, consumers who miss Oprah Winfrey and Eckhart Tolle’s weekly online class surrounding “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose” can download the event for free at Oprah.com or iTunes as part of a sponsorship deal with Pharmavite promoting its new Nature Made Liquid Softgels, Pharmavite announced Monday.

“Ms. Winfrey and Mr. Tolle’s program represents the world’s largest interactive classroom and we’re thrilled to be a part of it,” stated Richard Yoder, marketing director, Nature Made vitamins. “This class fuels people’s spirits and that meshes perfectly with our commitment to help individuals fuel their own greatness. We know people’s lives are busy and they can’t always participate in the live event, so we’re excited to be able to offer free downloads of the weekly classes.”

Each weekly class covers a chapter from “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose” and includes a discussion led by Winfrey and Tolle. The discussion can be viewed live on Oprah.com every Monday at 9/8 CDT p.m. through May 5.  People can register for the class at www.oprah.com/anewearth.

In correlation with the sponsorship agreement, Pharmavite also announced Monday the introduction of its new Nature Made Liquid Softgel, a family of softgel supplemeings available in six formulations: Multi Complete, Multi For Her, Calcium 600 mg with Vitamin D, Vitamin C 500 mg, Vitamin D 1,000 IU and Super B-Complex.

“The launch of Liquid Softgels exemplifies Nature Made’s continued commitment to innovation,” Yoder said. “This new line not only addresses consumer demand for easier-to-swallow supplements, but also further bolsters Nature Made’s reputation as a clear industry leader by utilizing new premium products to help drive growth and trial within the vitamin, mineral and supplement arena.”

Nature Made is currently the only major brand offering key letter vitamins and multivitamins in convenient, easy-to-swallow liquid softgel form.

Liquid Softgels will be supported by a comprehensive integrated marketing program totaling about $10 million, Pharmavite stated. National television and print campaigns launch in April. In addition, more than 800,000 14-day supply samples of the products will be available for consumers online. Other key elements of the program include targeted online advertising, broad-based public relations outreach and national in-store consumer promotions. 

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