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What are you doing?

BY Dave Wendland

Harkening back to managing an improvisational comedy troupe in San Diego and prior to that participating with a Milwaukee-based group, one of my favorite improv games was “What are you doing?” In this shtick, two performers stand together on stage. One begins performing a physical activity and when asked, “What are you doing?” describes an action that is totally unrelated. For example, one actor may be rigorously doing push-ups on stage while telling the other comic that they are performing a root canal. This incongruence is hilarious. 

Consider this as it relates to retail pharmacies and their appeal to shoppers in today’s fast-paced market. Imagine a pharmacy that you would expect to be focused on patient care, health, and wellness, which suddenly makes a totally incongruent decision that they will be selling live gerbils. Shoppers are caused to pause and ask the same question, “What are you doing?”

It is the race to attract shoppers and gain trips that is causing some retailers to lose their core identity which can potentially lead to puzzlement among consumers. Diversification is seldom a bad thing, but I am concerned that the portrayal of multiple personalities (something I refer to as the Sybil Effect) may alienate more core customers than it attracts new ones.

Family Dollar has certainly recognized that “value” is at the core of its DNA and is taking aggressive steps to reflect that in a series of moves that reintroduces food items at lower price points. CVS/Caremark may have realized a similar juxtaposition within its four walls as it boldly announced the removal of cigarettes from its inventory. Fred’s Super Dollar recently committed to putting more focus on wellness and accelerating its pharmacy presence throughout its enterprise.

So, for retailers, manufacturers, and distributors contemplating a strategic shift in direction, I encourage you to ensure that your next bold move is consistent with your business and that it doesn’t leave shoppers scratching their heads, asking, “What are you doing?”

 


Hamacher Resource Group vice president Dave Wendland, a 20-plus-year retail industry veteran, is a popular presenter and discussion facilitator available to speak at corporate and association events on a variety of retail-related topics. HRG is a research, marketing and category management firm specializing in consumer health care at retail. Product manufacturers, healthcare distributors, retailers, technology partners and others rely on HRG for strategic and creative solutions to help build their business. Learn more at www.hamacher.com.

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Report: Pfizer making $100 billion play for Astra Zeneca

BY Michael Johnsen

LONDON — Pfizer is making a bid of $100.8 billion (£60 billion) for Astra Zeneca, according to a report in the Sunday Times, a U.K. daily, published Sunday. 

Citing insiders, the Sunday Times reported that, internally, Astra Zeneca is resisting the overture. 

"The New York company is keen to deploy a $70 billion (£42 billion) cash pile that it has accumulated in overseas subsidiaries," the paper reported.

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Boehringer Ingelheim gains orphan drug status for volasertib for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia

BY Michael Johnsen

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. — Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals has announced that the Food and Drug Administration and European Commission have granted Orphan Drug Designation to volasertib for acute myeloid leukemia. Volasertib currently is being evaluated in a Phase III clinical trial for the treatment of patients ages 65 years or older with previously untreated AML who are ineligible for intensive remission induction therapy. 

Volasertib has not been approved by the FDA or EC regulatory authorities; its safety and efficacy have not been established.

AML is an aggressive cancer of the bone marrow and blood. It accounts for approximately one-third of all adult leukemias in the Western world, and has one of the lowest survival rates of all leukemias. AML primarily is a disease of later adulthood; the average age of an AML patient is 65 years to 70 years. The recommended standard of care currently is intensive chemotherapy, but many patients, due to age and comorbidities, cannot tolerate this therapeutic approach. For them, options are limited, and their prognosis typically is poor. Volasertib currently is being investigated in this specific patient population.

"The FDA and EC Orphan Drug Designations mark an important milestone in our global development program for volasertib," said Sabine Luik, SVP medicine and regulatory affairs, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals. "Boehringer Ingelheim is deeply committed to supporting the community of patients living with acute myeloid leukemia, with a current research focus on these older patients who have very limited treatment options." 

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