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AmerisourceBergen: Pharmaceuticals business has bright future

BY Michael Johnsen

PHILADELPHIA — The pharmaceuticals business will begin picking up in 2014, AmerisourceBergen president and CEO Steve Collis said last week at the wholesaler’s ThinkLive Manufacturer’s Summit held here. "Next year is a slower brand-to-generic [trend] and in 2014 we’re going to see a resumption in that top-line growth rate [across the pharmaceutical industry in the U.S.] to a modest 4% growth," Collis said. "That’s not too bad," he added, especially when you compare that growth up against what’s happening worldwide.

In the U.S., the number of boomers turning 65 years old will continue to climb in 2014 and beyond, which will serve as a strong tailwind behind overall health care. "With 50,000 baby boomers entering Medicare every day, healthcare spending’s going to be a tremendous focus," Collis said. "It just has to be."

That focus on cost containment will afford manufacturers the opportunity to really frame their value proposition, AmerisourceBergen Consulting Services president Peyton Howell suggested, as payers seek more bundled services that incorporate improved patient health outcomes.

The number of newly insured as part of healthcare reform will be a strong tailwind in 2014, Howell added. "That’s really when the benefits that we’re expecting [hit]," she said. "Those new lives, 30 million-plus lives, coming into eligibility either through the exchanges or through Medicaid … there are a lot of questions about that big piece of patients that a lot [in the pharmaceutical industry] are expecting to come into some form of healthcare insurance," Howell said.

There are several wildcards that could impact pharmaceuticals going forward, of course, not the least of which is the upcoming presidential election, Howell said. Excepting the insurance mandate, much of the healthcare reform already has been implemented, such as parents being able to extend coverage to their adult children, Howell said. But state elections may become a significant piece to the puzzle as well with the decision around whether or not to expand Medicaid in conjunction with healthcare reform again resting with the states. And if the economy remains sluggish, more citizens may qualify for that Medicaid coverage anyway.

The sluggish economy also may impact Medicare roles, Howell said. "Are we likely to see more means testing, for example, for Medicare eligible? All those baby boomers that we were referring to, as they come into Medicare eligibility is it likely that they’ll be paying a greater share if their incomes are higher — yes," Howell predicted.

Another significant challenge facing the industry is the spate of new drug development; however, beyond 2014, drug development should pick up again, especially across the specialty channel. "New drug approvals are definitely harder to come by," Collis said, but the business of specialty pharmaceuticals will trend higher as the administration of those medicines expand beyond traditional care centers.


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Stride introduces ID gum

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — Stride gum is inviting teenage consumers to embrace their individuality with the launch of new ID gum.

The core of the ID gum brand focuses on the teen experience, believing it’s better to explore individuality by staying open-minded rather than define themselves with a single identity, parent company Kraft Foods said. The gum is packaged in a sleek, innovative folding pack that features a magnetic closure. Once unwrapped, the pack reveals original artwork sourced from young emerging artists from around the world (there are 18 designs in total).

"Today’s teens are really looking for that emotional connection with their brands and are hungry for new ways to explore and display their creativity and individuality," said Stephanie Wilkes, Vice president of North America confections at Kraft Foods. "The uniqueness of ID gum — from the artwork to the packaging to its online gaming experience — takes discovery and personal expression to a whole new level."

ID gum, which began shipping to retailers nationwide in August, carries a suggested retail price of $1.49 per single pack and $3.29 for the multi-pack. The line currently is available in peppermint, berry melon and spearmint varieties.

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Retailers charge that proposed Visa/MasterCard interchange settlement is unacceptable

BY Michael Johnsen

ARLINGTON, Va. — Retailers are up in arms over the proposed settlement filed in July of antitrust lawsuits filed by merchants against Visa, MasterCard and the nation’s largest banks. A total of nine associations representing a broad swath of retail industry expressed their reservations to members of Congress on Thursday, charging that their interests were not represented and asking Congress to reject that settlement. 

“The proposed settlement, which was negotiated by Visa, MasterCard and lawyers purporting to represent the merchant community, is one-sided and preserves the very anticompetitive actions that were the genesis of the lawsuits," the collective associations suggested. "Quite simply, the proposed settlement is a bad deal for merchants and their customers. While the card networks and their representatives have suggested it is a fait accompli, the growing objections from the merchant community foreshadow the fight that lies ahead as Visa and MasterCard attempt to force the terms of the settlement on nearly 8 million merchants.” 

“Given the important oversight role of Congress and your continued interest in this important issue, we write today to urge you to reject the false claims from the card networks and their representatives. The proposed settlement does nothing to resolve the failures in the electronic payment market and continued Congressional involvement in these issues is imperative. We look forward to keeping you fully informed as the legal process moves forward and the chorus of objections grows,” the letter closed.

The letter was signed by the National Association of College Stores, the National Association of Convenience Stores, the National Association of Truck Stop Operators, the National Community Pharmacists Association, the National Cooperative Grocers Association, the National Grocers Association, the National Retail Federation, the Retail Industry Leaders Association and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America.

 

 

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