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Survey says use of online coupons up

BY Michael Johnsen

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. —The number of people turning to the Web for coupons has grown by more than 38 percent over the past three years, and now totals some 36 million “coupon clickers,” according to a new study released late last month by Coupons Inc., a leading provider of interactive coupon marketing and technologies.

The survey, conducted by Simmons/Experian Research, found that one key demographic for consumer packaged goods companies—young families with children and an annual household income of $60,000 or more—were more likely to print coupons online than clip them out of a newspaper or insert. Some key findings:

In households making more than $60,000 a year, 61 percent printed coupons from the Web versus the 56.6 percent who clipped paper coupons.

Among consumers age 35 and under, 29.4 percent download online coupons versus 23.3 percent who clip paper.

35.6 percent of households with a child under the age of 18 use online coupons versus 29.2 percent who clip paper.

But it’s not just young families that are seeking savings online—boomers are doing it, too. “It’s a false assumption to say that consumers 60 and older are not using the Internet,” Jeff Weitzman, chief marketing officer for Coupons Inc., told Drug Store News. “There is a very active [online] community within that age group.” Today’s retirees are using the Internet more and more as a kind of online senior community center where they can find fellow retirees with similar interests, he said.

But it’s not so much how many people download online offers; it’s how many redeem them. Redemption rates are also higher among online coupon users versus print, reaching almost 17 percent, according to Weitzman, compared with less than 1 percent redemption of free-standing insert coupons.

In addition to higher utilization rates, online couponing affords marketers the opportunity to do a little demographic research of their own. According to the research, more than 70 percent of consumers seeking to download a $2 coupon were willing to share personal information, such as their full names and mailing addresses, or were willing to fill out a questionnaire.

That has the potential of helping to fine tune promotional strategies for retailers that post coupons on their sites. And, if the consumer becomes conditioned to finding greater value on a retailer’s Web page before they even reach the store, it also has the potential of increasing shopper loyalty. “Retailer sites are one of the more popular places to get coupons,” Weitzman noted. One of the primary reasons consumers visit retailer Web sites, according to the survey, “is to see if there are any promotions or deals they can find before visiting the store,” he said.

Online couponing also easier to track and trace. Coupons Inc., for example, can pinpoint when a coupon has been printed and where that particular coupon was redeemed. There is also greater control over the total number of coupons that can be downloaded or printed per computer, as well as the number of total coupons printed.

In addition to the survey, Coupons Inc. has developed a couponing index that not only helps measure demand but also can serve as a leading indicator of economic stress. That can help retailers tweak their promotional strategies to better reflect real-time economic pressures. “The Coupon Index is more an instant measure of consumer psychology,” Weitzman said.

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Court rules against Watson in Naprelan case

BY Drew Buono

CORONA, Calif. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida ruled that Watson Pharmaceuticals’ naproxen sodium extended-release tablets, a generic version of the pain medication Naprelan, infringes the brand drug manufacturer’s patent, Watson announced Wednesday.

Elan initially brought the suit in October 1998 after Andrx filed an application for a generic version of the drug. In March 2002, the District Court ruled that Elan’s ‘320 patent was invalid. Watson acquired Andrx in November 2006.

In May 2004, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed the District Court’s finding of invalidity and remanded the case for further proceedings. In January 2005, Elan filed a related case against Andrx in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida alleging that Andrx’s generic drug infringes the patent and is seeking damages for willful infringement. In late 2005, the parties completed briefing the District Court on the validity of the patent and whether Andrx’s product infringes it, and the matter has been under submission to the District Court since then.

Watson said it intends to appeal the ruling.

Watson’s naproxen sodium tablets had sales of $4 million over the year ending June 30, according to IMS data.

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Medicare officials predict lower 2009 Part D costs than expected

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON Monthly premiums for Medicare’s Part D prescription drug program next year will be lower than expected, Medicare officials announced Thursday.

Based on bids submitted by Part D plans, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services estimated that the average monthly premium that recipients will pay for standard Part D coverage will be $28 – lower than the $44.12 predicted in 2003.

At the same time, it is $3 more than the premium for this year, mainly because of rising drug costs and higher plan estimates for catastrophic coverage and the phase-out of a CMS demonstration project.

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