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Second annual tweet-a-thon proved how #Pharmacists can make a difference

BY Michael Johnsen

Kicking off American Pharmacists Month this year on Oct. 2 was the second annual #Pharmacist tweet-a-thon. Highlighting the important role pharmacists play in patient care, their communities and the broader healthcare landscape, more than 11,000 tweets with the hashtag #Pharmacist were sent during the 24-hour period — some 467 an hour, according to healthcare social media watcher Symplur. 
 
Last year, more than 7,100 tweets with the hashtag #Pharmacist were sent during the inaugural tweet-a-thon on Oct. 3, 2013. Year-over-year, that's a 55% increase in participation. 
 
That's a lot of pharmacists touting about their noble profession. @Phowler (Lisa Schwartz) tweeted, "I want patients to ask me questions about medications — when to start, how to take and when to stop.  Rx, OTC or supplements.  #Pharmacist." "Do u spend a lot each month on meds? Talk to a #pharmacist now about less expensive alternatives! #helpmehelpyou," tweeted @joeymattingly (Joey). And @KurtProctor, (Kurt Proctor, SVP strategic initiatives at the National Community Pharmacists Association), tweeted, "Your #pharmacist is ready to help, no matter what is keeping you from taking your medications as prescribed."
 
Pharmacists are not only knowledgeable healthcare professionals who can provide counseling in the form of medication therapy management or disease state management; pharmacists are not only caring professionals who can help patients save money in an effort to boost adherence (and lower future healthcare costs); pharmacists are also there, conveniently located and easily accessible, or in other words "ready to help" as Proctor tweeted. 
 
The value of the pharmacist is signficant, and patients are looking to tap into it. According to McKesson Patient Relationship Solutions' research released last week, an increasing number of patients do not fully understand their medical condition and are more interested in personal communications from their healthcare practitioners concerning their condition. And increasingly, that communication is coming from their neighborhood pharmacist. More than half (52%) of patients surveyed rely on their pharmacist for information about their medication, and an increasing number are seeking information about how to save on medicines from their pharmacist (34%). 
 
Drug Store News director of continuing education and clinical content Suzanne Feeney, PharmD, even got in on the action by taking over the DSN Twitter handle @drugstorenews for the second annual #Pharmacist tweet-a-thon."A big thank you to all the #pharmacists out there for being committed to the health & safety of your patients every day!," she tweeted, after a very busy day of following the trending hashtag #pharmacist. Feeney featured a photo of her getting her annual flu shot, administered by her pharmacist at Jewel-Osco. 
 
The now annual tweet-a-thon aims to spark awareness of the good that the pharmacy profession does on a daily basis. To help underscore that value of the pharmacist in today's healthcare paradigm, the American Pharmacists Association kicked off its campaign at the top of the month, called “Know Your Pharmacist — Know Your Medicine.” The more patients who know their pharmacists, the more they'll know about their medications — from documented successes to contraindications, according to the APhA. 
 

 

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FDA approves Akynzeo from Eisai

BY Ryan Chavis

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved Akynzeo (netupitant and palonosetron) for the treatment of nausea and vomiting in patients who are undergoing cancer chemotherapy. The drug is a fixed-combination capsule of two medications: Oral palonosetron and Netupitant. 
 
“Supportive care products, such as Akynzeo, help ease the nausea and vomiting patients may experience as a side effect of cancer chemotherapy,” said Julie Beitz, M.D., director of the Office of Drug Evaluation III in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
 
Akynzeo is distributed and marketed by Eisai. 
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Mars Chocolate rolls out new flavors, welcomes back fan favorites

BY Ryan Chavis

HACKETTSTOWN, N.J. — Mars Chocolate on Thursday announced a plethora of new products that will appear on retail store shelves in the coming months, with two of the items — M&M's Crispy Chocolate Candies and Snickers Xtreme Bar — making a return due to popular demand. 
 
“We’re introducing some tantalizing new flavors to our brand portfolios, as well as relaunching popular M&M’s brand Crispy Chocolate Candies and Snicker's Xtreme Bar,” said Rick LaBerge, VP of sales for Mars Chocolate North America. “Consumers are passionate about their chocolate, and they’re excited to try new flavor combinations from the brands they know and love.”
 
The new products, which were unveiled at the 2014 National Association of Convenience Stores in Las Vegas, include:
 
  • 3 Musketeers Mint Bites, bite-sized candies featuring mint-flavored nougat coated in dark chocolate;
  • Combos Baked Snacks Sweet & Salty Caramel Crème Pretzel, which delivers the taste of caramel crème candy with a salty pretzel crunch;
  • Combos Baked Snacks Sweet & Salty Vanilla Frosting Pretzel, which combines the flavors of salty pretzels and vanilla frosting;
  • Dove Whole Fruit Dipped in Dark Chocolate, a combination of real fruit dipped in Dove Dark Chocolate;
  • Twix Creamy Peanut Butter Cookie Bars, which feature a layer of savory peanut butter on a Twix Cookie Bar, all coated with milk chocolate. The new recipe includes a traditional crunchy Twix Cookie Bar instead of a chocolate cookie, the company noted; and
  • Seasonal Shapes in both singles and to-go formats. Shapes include Twix brand ghosts, Santas, hearts and eggs, as well as Snickers brand pumpkins, Nutcrackers, hearts and eggs. 
Sales of seasonal confectionery items continue to rise as consumers celebrate the holidays with their favorite brands, the company said. LaBerge also added that holidays are a prime time for retailers to add shippers and secondary display options around stores.
 
“Confectionery is the most responsive category to merchandising, so it’s critical to place secondary displays along the path to purchase in what we call ‘hot spot’ locations,” LaBerge said. “The ‘hot spots’ in a convenience store are by the register, cold vault, foodservice/deli and fountain drinks. When shoppers reach for a beverage or a sandwich, they’re likely to grab a chocolate bar.”
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