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Arnica, baby care fuel natural growth

BY Michael Johnsen

The external analgesic ingredient arnica and baby care are two categories that are moving the needle across the homeopathic landscape. The leading arnica SKU Arnicare, from Boiron, generated sales of $13.4 million on growth of 43.9% for the 52 weeks ended July 13 across total U.S multi-outlets, according to IRI, well outpacing category growth of 7.5% for the same period.

(For the full report, including charts, click here.)

Arnica is a newer ingredient to the food, drug and mass arena, and it’s not just focused on pain, but also on bruising and swelling.

Similasan recently introduced its Similasan Arnica Active which is differentiated against other arnica products by its delivery system — a spray-on as opposed to a gel or roll-ons. “We’re one of the very first sprays in the mass market,” Dan Quail, Similasan VP, head of North America, told DSN. Because everybody gets the occasional bumps and bruises, a pain relieving ingredient that also reduces bruising is becoming well-known among consumers. “If you talk to people who know a little about homeopathy … the first [product] they’ve tried is arnica,” Quail said.

And Hyland’s continues to attract moms with both its Hyland’s Baby and Hyland’s 4 Kids lines. Baby is a key category for Hyland’s, especially as the company is able to make dosage recommendations for children as young as 6 months. That’s a three-and-a-half-year opportunity for the line of homeopathic products, as pediatric allopathic medicines are indicated for children ages 4 years and older.

 

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Adherence key to outcomes

BY Michael Johnsen

Community pharmacists can dramatically help their patients stick to their prescription regimens, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy. The findings, reported in August in Health Affairs, also suggest that greater adherence to medications can lead to a reduction in emergency room visits and hospital admissions, thereby lowering healthcare costs for a variety of chronic conditions, including diabetes and asthma.

(For the full Diabetes Report, including charts and additional coverage, click here.)

For the study — dubbed the Pennsylvania Project — staff from Pitt’s School of Pharmacy’s Program Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU) trained 283 community pharmacists to ask customers a few quick questions about medication adherence using established survey tools. They also were taught to have a brief dialog with patients whose screening scores indicated they were at risk of not taking their medications as prescribed by their doctors.

During 2011, 29,042 people had prescriptions filled at 107 Rite Aid pharmacies that implemented the screening and brief intervention approach (SBI), and 30,454 people who went to 111 “control” pharmacies that didn’t use SBI.

For the five classes of common medications the researchers reviewed, PDC rates of 80% or better increased in the SBI group during the intervention compared with the control group, ranging from 3.1% for beta blockers to treat high blood pressure to 4.8% for oral diabetes drugs. Healthcare costs dropped by $341 annually per person for SBI patients taking oral diabetes drugs and by $241 for SBI patients taking statins to lower cholesterol.

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Diabetic treatment key for Star ratings

BY Michael Johnsen

Thanks to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Five-Star Quality Rating System, the diabetes community stands to play a significant role in how pharmacies think about their patients and their medication adherence programs. While successfully managing the outcomes of a diabetes patient has served as a proof of concept around pharmacy’s role in saving healthcare dollars, going forward proficiency in managing diabetes patients will become a key component in the success of individual pharmacies.

(For the full Diabetes Report, including charts and additional coverage, click here.)

“Inside of the Star ratings, there are two of the five clinical measures that … are directly correlated to diabetes care,” Samuel Stolpe, director of quality strategies for the Pharmacy Quality Alliance, told DSN. “One of those is around medication adherence for oral antidiabetic medication that doesn’t include insulin, [and] the other is for the appropriate treatment of hypertension in patients with diabetes,” he said. Looking ahead, CMS is considering adding a measure around oral antidiabetic medicine dosing to the Star ratings system, Stolpe said.

According to Stolpe, the Star ratings are going to become a bigger influencer going forward, especially as the industry develops a pharmacy Star metric that will have a public element, and certain health plans experiment with pay-for-performance models to incentivize higher Star ratings among pharmacies. “Diabetes is definitely a focus for those pharmacists and pharmacies that are looking to perform well on emerging incentive and disincentive programs that payers will be rolling out in 2015,” Stolpe said.

PQA currently is in the process of working on Pharmacy Quality Ratings, thanks to a grant from the Community Pharmacy Foundation. “Right now, hospitals, physicians, nursing home facilities — they’re all getting rated,” he said. But pharmacies aren’t. “We’re very focused on making sure that this is going to be fair. Right now, it doesn’t have a public-facing element. We’re figuring out ways of doing it in a beta test.”

When that public-facing element becomes available, patients will be able to choose pharmacies based on their performance in successfully managing diabetes patients. That will create a reinforcing loop, where patients interested in better managing their diabetes gravitate toward pharmacies proficient in managing diabetes.

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