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States adopt NPLEx to prevent PSE use for meth

BY Michael Johnsen

Pennsylvania last month became the 29th state to employ the National Precursor Log Exchange in the fight against the diversion of products containing pseudoephedrine into methamphetamine. State No. 30, Delaware, is expected to sign real-time stop sale technology into law this summer.

"NPLEx gives retailers the power to block these illegal purchases at the register before they happen, giving communities and Pennsylvania law enforcement a new and critical tool in stopping the illegal sale of these medicines to criminals," noted Scott Melville, CHPA president and CEO.

While NPLEx interferes with the distribution of PSE products, two companies are launching meth-resistant products.

Acura Pharmaceuticals last month introduced a second-generation prototype formulation of its meth-resistant IMPEDE technology, which helps prevent the diversion of PSE into meth production. Acura intends to immediately commence development of an upgraded Nexafed tablet using IMPEDE 2.0.

Westport Pharmaceuticals also has a meth-resistant PSE product called Zephrex-D. The specially formulated pseudoephedrine product helps make it impractical to illicitly manufacture methamphetamine. In recent independent laboratory tests of Zephrex-D, traditional extraction/conversion manufacturing methods converted less than 0.5% of the pseudoephedrine into meth.

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Brands return to shelves with fanfare

BY Michael Johnsen

Both Novartis Consumer Health and McNeil Consumer Healthcare will be making strong comebacks across their respective analgesic portfolios in the second half of this year, which will make a fourth-quarter battle royale across analgesics, as well as cough-cold.

Retail partners are excited about getting these venerable brand names back on shelf, suggested Stefan Merlo, director of healthcare strategy at Novartis Consumer Health, as part of a special edition of DSN Executive Viewpoints. "They’re treating them almost as if they are new launches," he said. "And they are investing [with us] in different types of displays, innovative types of [displays] so that we can make the awareness about these brands even greater."

McNeil has similarly pledged to partner with key retail partners "on strategic relationships that are … supporting their health and wellness strategies," noted Sandra Peterson, group worldwide chairman at McNeil, in a recent analyst call. "By year-end, our plan is to deliver reliable and consistent supply of three-quarters of the product brands."

As Novartis and McNeil ramp up marketing and merchandising commitments for the fourth quarter, competitors are expected to follow suit. "The combination of [McNeil] and Novartis coming back at the same time, you’ll have those companies … doing more merchandising, advertising and promotion," Laura Mahecha, industry manager at Kline Healthcare, told DSN. "The competitive set will match them [so as to] not get lost in [the] noise," she said.

With the return of brands like Tylenol and Excedrin, Prestige Brands is looking to shake up the internal analgesics space with the launch of Goody’s Headache Relief Shot. "We believe the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot is truly a game-changer in pain relief," stated Joseph Juliano, brand director for Goody’s. "There is no other product like it on the market."

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Weight-loss services, kits gain repeat customers

BY Michael Johnsen

The sale of diet aids and weight-management products is booming — approaching the $5 billion mark as an overall category across total multi-outlets, growing at a 12% clip.

But the real opportunity is in weight-loss services. You not only get those return trips for advice and the opportunity to sell additional fitness-oriented products, you have the potential of having a transformed patient who associates "healthy living" with the retail banner.

For example, MinuteClinic’s new weight-loss program incorporates the DASH diet. The program includes weekly visits with a MinuteClinic practitioner, as well as nutrition and weight-loss advice — and most insurance plans cover the cost of the program.

Walmart recently adjusted its perception on what meal replacement options consumers would buy in the mass channel with a pilot with Nutrisystem. The initial results were so positive, Walmart expanded that pilot to more than 3,700 locations based on strong consumer demand. "We’re seeing repeat business at Walmart, as well as multiple kit purchases, indicating that customers are seeing good results and enlisting other family members to diet with them," noted Dawn Zier, Nutrisystem CEO. "We expect to have additional product and kit to launch in retail for the 2014 diet season."

Within the weight-loss tablet space, GlaxoSmithKline’s Alli has been gaining traction with its return to market. Alli, the largest product in the space in terms of dollars, is experiencing 22.7% growth on sales of $62.6 million, according to IRI. GSK is rebuilding this brand under a new marketing campaign branded, "Let’s fight fat."
 

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