HEALTH

Schering-Plough teams up wih Tekscan

BY Michael Johnsen

BOSTON Schering-Plough Health Care Products and Tekscan on Thursday announced their partnership to develop a revolutionary new kiosk designed to assess a customer’s feet and recommend the optimal Dr. Scholl’s Custom Fit Orthotic.

The consumer steps up to the kiosk and onto the sensing platform and, within seconds, receives a Dr. Scholl’s Custom Fit Orthotic recommendation based on his or her foot pressure pattern, arch type and foot length. The orthotic, designed with special cushioning and support layers, offloads high-pressure areas with support and comfort in mind.

The Dr. Scholl’s Custom Fit Orthotics system uses the patented science of Tekscan’s pressure-sensing technology along with sophisticated algorithms to recommend a perfect fit.

Dr. Scholl’s Custom Fit Orthotic Kiosks can be found in Meijer, Kroger, CVS, Walmart and Walgreens retail stores in select markets, with further expansion planned.

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Zicam maker responds to FDA warning letter

BY Michael Johnsen

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday issued a surprise warning letter to Matrixx Initiatives around two of its 19 existing Zicam products, specifically Zicam Cold Remedy nasal gel and Zicam Cold Remedy swabs.

A third pediatric Zicam product was mentioned in the warning letter, though that product had been discontinued some years ago.

The warning letter cited some 130 consumer reports that the use of these products could cause a temporary or permanent loss of smell, known as anosmia. As a result, Matrixx is voluntarily recalling those products.

“We were surprised that the FDA decided to take this action without notifying us first, given our cooperative relationship with the FDA since we launched our first product in 1999,” commented William Hemelt, Matrixx acting president. “Had we had the opportunity to sit down with the FDA beforehand, we are confident that the FDA would have agreed that the scientific data clearly demonstrated the safety of our products.”

Hemelt said Matrixx currently is seeking an audience with the FDA “to vigorously defend its scientific data, developed during more than 10 years of experience with the products, demonstrating their safety.”

Since Zicam Cold Remedy intranasal cold remedy products were first introduced in the market in 1999, more than 35 million retail units, representing over 1 billion doses, have been sold, and the cumulative body of scientific and medical evidence compiled over those years has demonstrated both the safety and efficacy of Zicam intranasal cold remedy products under conditions of ordinary use, Matrixx stated in a press release.

All that suggests that less than 150 adverse event reports scuttled the experience of more than 35 million consumers.

“Matrixx Initiatives stands behind the science of its products and its belief that there is no causal link between its Zicam Cold Remedy intranasal gel products and anosmia,” Hemelt said. “It is well understood in the medical and scientific communities that the most common cause of anosmia is the common cold, which Zicam Cold Remedy intranasal gel products are taken to treat. Given the enormous number of doses sold and colds treated, there is no reason to believe the number of complaints of anosmia received is more than the number that would be expected in the general population. There is no reliable scientific evidence that Zicam causes anosmia.”

The alleged link between ansomia and Zicam use is not new. Matrixx has been contending with several lawsuits with consumers seeking damages suggesting that their Zicam use had caused ansomia. But many of those cases have been dismissed.

“We’ve had 10 federal judges exclude the expert witnesses for the plaintiffs, and consequently those cases have been dismissed,” Hemelt told analysts in May, with two of those dismissals having come in the previous quarter. “We also had some plaintiffs’ lawyers say, ‘Look I’m not even going to bother to try to pursue the case,’ and they dropped their case.” Matrixx is still fighting approximately one dozen suits, but the number of those suits are diminishing, Hemelt said.

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NACDS kicks off first annual RxIMPACT Day

BY Allison Cerra

WASHINGTON More than 150 pharmacy advocates from more than 30 states, armed with personal stories about the critical role pharmacy plays in improving patient care and keeping healthcare costs down, conducted meetings with key lawmakers as part of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ inaugural RxIMPACT Day on Capitol Hill.

In addition to the efforts on the Hill Wednesday, NACDS is embarking on a grassroots letter-writing campaign to members of Congress. NACDS will reach out to more than 20,000 pharmacy advocates, including NACDS members, to encourage them to engage on healthcare reform with their respective elected officials in Washington.

“NACDS RxIMPACT Day on Capitol Hill is the cornerstone event of the association’s newly launched grassroots advocacy program,” said NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson. “NACDS is pleased to welcome pharmacists and other industry advocates from across the country to Washington, D.C., [today]. Pharmacy is the face of neighborhood health care and provides convenient and accessible health care for patients in every state and congressional district. The timing of the healthcare reform debate could not afford a better opportunity for pharmacy to urge lawmakers to include pro-patient, pro-pharmacy policies in those discussions.”

To further complement the Hill meetings, and to bolster healthcare reform messages, NACDS also took out a full-page, color advertisement in the Capitol Hill publication Roll Call. The ad provides an additional opportunity to show the value of pharmacies, and how they can help enhance healthcare quality, access and affordability.

Meanwhile, NACDS also bestowed Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., the NACDS Congressional Leadership Award for his commitment to the industry and for being an advocate for issues impacting pharmacy. NACDS instituted the annual award this year to honor a member of Congress who demonstrates leadership on pro-patient, pro-pharmacy policy issues. Rep. Ross was the keynote speaker at the event’s welcome dinner.

In response to the event, Drug Store News created a compilation of 10 stories from the print publication meant to profile what retail pharmacy is doing to lead healthcare reform, underwritten by PDX and Rx.com and titled “Community Pharmacy & Public Health: Profiles in Reform,” for members of the House and Senate. Drug Store News presented the guide for the first time at a special breakfast reception Wednesday, June 17, to kick-off the NACDS RxIMPACT Day.

To read the compilation, click here.

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