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Seniors seeking help with arthritis expected to boost assisted living devices category

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK —Much like pharmacy operators have broadened their front-end diabetes offerings to capture the increased market basket associated with that diabetes patient, there may be an opportunity to replicate that strategy against arthritis patients through assisted living devices, several suppliers at last month’s ECRM Home Health Care suggested.

The arthritis-suffering consumer already represents a rather large consumer base—one that’s expected to grow significantly larger with the graying of the baby boomer. Today, more than 47% of seniors are diagnosed with arthritis, and more than 26% of assisted living device products are being bought for a person with arthritis.

According to a study commissioned by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, almost 4.1 million seniors, or 13% of the senior population, are in the market for an assisted living device that’s not a wheelchair or scooter. Another 933,000 seniors are actually in need of a wheelchair or scooter, representing a population that also might be in greater need of an assisted living device. According to the study, 71.3% of wheelchair-users either had difficulty or were unable to lift 10 lbs., compared with 51.5% of all mobility device users; 37.2% of wheelchair-users had difficulty or were unable to reach up or out, compared with 26.2% overall; and 33.8% of wheelchair-users had difficulty or were unable to grasp, as compared with 21.6% overall.

“[People who use mobility devices] experience severe functional and activity limitations in much greater proportion, and they are more than 40 times as likely to need assistance with self-care activities as their counterparts who do not use mobility devices,” Stephen Kaye, author of the study, concluded.

According to Nielsen Co. Homescan Panel data for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 27, 2008,5.6% of U.S. households, or almost 6 million households, already are shopping retail for an OTC arthritis pain reliever, and spending on average as little as $16.81 per year. Almost half (44.9%) are making that purchase in mass merchants with supercenters, and 1-in-4 are buying their OTC arthritis pain relief through the drug channel.

Leading conditions associated with mobility device use, ages 65+

Source: National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research study
CONDITION POPULATION (IN THOUSANDS)
All conditions 4,040
Osteoarthritis 957
Hypertension / heart disease 505
Senility without psychosis 233
Impairment to leg/foot 226
Impairment to hip/pelvis 155
Impairment to back/neck 112
Rheumatoid arthritis 107
Osteoporosis 83

Across the back bench, 75.7 million prescriptions were filled last year for arthritis medications, not including such biological response modifiers as Enbrel (etanercept), representing 2% growth versus 2007, according to IMS Health data.

Some of the products specifically focusing on that arthritis consumer included Zibra’s new Open It! Rx series of products, all of which are slated to launch nationally in June. The products featured in the Open It! Rx series are geared toward the arthritis sufferer who has difficulty opening any number of medicinal packages and bottles. And all the products under the Open It! Rx series retail for less than $9.99, representing a potential incremental sale at the pharmacy counter.

Swedish manufacturer Etac has developed a broad range of assisted living products that help consumers with arthritis more easily perform such daily living tasks as brushing their hair. Etac’s entire line is developeed in close cooperation with end users, care providers, therapists and industrial designers, company representatives noted.

And among the full line of assisted living devices offered by Carex Health Brands, the company recently featured its Bed Buddy Herbal Naturals line of hot wraps, including its Plush ThermaTherapy Neck and Hand Wrap, a wrap that provides moist heat around the neck and shoulders and features pockets at each extension for the hands. The heat lasts up to one hour and can be reused and washed. Also, new to the line, the wraps are lightly scented with lavender and chamomile for an aromatherapy therapeutic effect.

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Kroger to serve as exclusive supermarket sponsor of Fiesta Atlanta ’09

BY Allison Cerra

ATLANTA Kroger will serve as the exclusive supermarket sponsor of Fiesta Atlanta ’09, an outdoor Cinco de Mayo festival celebrating Latino culture, music and food.

Fiesta Atlanta ’09 takes place on Sunday, May 3 at Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta. For Kroger, the partnership represents the company’s commitment to the Hispanic community.

“We are very excited and looking forward to Fiesta Atlanta,” said Glynn Jenkins, director of communications and public relations for Kroger’s Atlanta Division. “Kroger has always made exceptional efforts to serve the Hispanic community and joining this celebration is another commitment to our Hispanic customers.”

Atlanta’s largest Hispanic outdoor family festival, Fiesta Atlanta attracted over 40,000 attendees last year. This year’s event will once again feature authentic food from many Latin-American countries, arts and crafts, sponsor displays with many free product samples and continuous live musical performances by national and local recording artists.

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AARP cites big jump in Rx prices

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK A report by AARP indicated that prices for branded drugs have increased at a rate outpacing the rate of inflation by more than six percentage points.

 

The report found that manufacturers’ prices for branded drugs increased by 9% last year, compared with the general inflation rate of 3.8%. Meanwhile, prices of generic drugs decreased, on average, by 10.6%.

 

 

Generic drugs have already grown significantly over the years, accounting for 69% of all prescriptions dispensed in the United States, but 16% of money spent on prescriptions, according to IMS Health. In 2007, according to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the average price of a generic prescription drug was $34.34, compared to $119.51 for a branded drug.

 

 

Price increases for branded drugs significantly higher than the overall rate of inflation, mixed with the recession, are likely to drive more consumers to generics. According to AARP, nearly a quarter of all older Americans skip medication doses because of the cost, while other studies have shown that many Americans facing economic hardship don’t have prescriptions filled at all.

 

 

At the same time, many branded pharmaceutical drugs – not to mention biologics – don’t yet have a generic version. This could create difficulties for elderly and other patients who may be able switch to medications that are cheaper, but different from what they take, or who take biologic drugs or newer drugs that have no equivalent on the market.

 

 

The Generic Pharmaceutical Association said the report indicated that generic medicines are “the right choice for better health.”

 

 

“During these difficult economic times, it is truly disturbing to hear reports that our nation’s seniors cannot afford their prescription drug costs,” GPhA president and CEO Kathleen Jaeger said in a statement responding to the report. “No one should be forced to choose between putting food on their table and paying for needed medicines.”

 

 

Jaeger also said the report illustrated the need for a regulatory pathway for biosimilars.

 

 

“It’s time to do right by our seniors and all Americans struggling with healthcare costs by approving legislation that brings safe, effective and affordable biogeneric medicines to patients sooner rather than later,” Jaeger said. “GPhA also strongly believes that increasing funding for FDA would ensure the more timely approval of generic medicines, increasing the opportunity for consumers to save immediately.”

 

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