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CHPA, NACDS lobby for PSE e-tracking over Rx-only laws

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON —Did the Combat Meth Act of 2005 not go far enough? Should the common and popular decongestant pseudoephedrine in fact be available only by prescription in an effort to further hamper illicit methamphetamine production?

Those were the questions addressed in April as the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control held its hearing around strategies that would keep PSE products out of the hands of meth cooks.

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association is calling on Congress to amend and strengthen the federal Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act by requiring nationwide electronic tracking for all over-the-counter sales of cold and allergy medicines in lieu of establishing an additional barrier to the legitimate purchase of the cough-cold-allergy medicine.

According to the CHPA, presently 10-outof-the-12 states that have recently addressed PSE availability have opted for e-tracking—the creation of electronic logbooks accessible in real-time to local law enforcement to better track those criminals attempting to exceed their legal limits in PSE purchases. Those states include Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Washington, of which eight states have adopted the National Precursor Log Exchange system, an interstate electronic tracking system funded by manufacturers of PSE products. The advantage to the NPLEx system is that it helps block sales across state lines, as well.

The NPLEx e-tracking system works in real time to stop individuals from exceeding package limits when purchasing PSE-containing medicines. Using sales records that retailers already are required to keep, and which only are made available to law enforcement, NPLEx works across state lines and provides law enforcement with an effective tool to stop methamphetamine production.

“We are asking Congress to significantly improve the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act by leveraging cutting-edge technology to block illegal pseudoephedrine sales nationwide,” stated CHPA president Linda Suydam. “Electronic tracking offers the best solution to reducing methamphetamine labs without imposing a costly and unnecessary prescription mandate. Our goal is to stop illegal pseudoephedrine sales while maintaining important over-the-counter access to the 15 million consumers who rely on these medicines each year.”

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores similarly supported the use of a system like NPLEx, arguing that the reverse switch of PSE from OTC-to-Rx would result in an unnecessary increase in overall healthcare costs for consumers, state and federal governments, and private employers.

“Consumers, health insurers and other third-party payers, including Medicaid, would be forced to absorb the added cost of otherwise unnecessary doctor and emergency room visits, thus ballooning the cost of treating colds, flu and allergies from a few dollars to upward of $100,” NACDS stated. “Offsetting the increased costs would be particularly challenging due the fact that designating pseudoephedrine products as prescription drugs would also result in lost sales tax revenue.”

It’s no small issue for state coffers either. Sales of the four leading PSE tablet SKUs—Mucinex DM and Mucinex D, Claritin D and Zyrtec D — totaled $405.6 million for the 52 weeks ended April 18 across food, drug and mass (excluding Walmart) according to SymphonyIRI Group, based on growth of 2.4%. Factoring an average 5.1% sales tax across all states and Washington, D.C., that would equate to $20.7 million in lost tax revenues across those four branded SKUs alone.

Only two states, Oregon and Mississippi, have instead elected to make PSE medicines available by prescription only. Suydam challenged the effectiveness of Oregon’s prescription-only law at the hearing, however, noting that most of Oregon’s lab reductions occurred prior to the state’s prescription mandate and that states across the West achieved similar results without such a burdensome restriction.

Source: Consumer Healthcare Products Association
STATE TIMELINE TO IMPLEMENTATION
Kentucky Fully operational
Illinois Fully operational
Louisiana June 15, 2010
Missouri Finalizing regulations, expected summer 2010
Kansas Finalizing regulations, expected fall 2010
Iowa Under public review, expected 2011
Alabama Jan. 1, 2011
Washington July 1, 2011

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NACDS puts a new spin on Meet the Market

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN DIEGO This year the National Association of Chain Drug Stores introduced two new features to its Meet the Market format. First, NACDS hosted a Meet the Market Presentation Template webinar twice prior to Meet the Market, in which NACDS introduced a meeting template that succinctly captured all of the information retailers typically use to evaluate a new product or company.

Also new to Meet the Market were the booths of 10 service companies — trade media and professional education, merchandising consultants and marketing/media information companies — which afforded an opportunity for new and smaller suppliers to meet with these organizations.

“New companies have a need not only to meet with retailers, obviously, they have a need for their business,” noted Jim Whitman, NACDS SVP meetings and conferences. Another ongoing improvement is the productivity within each meeting, Whitman added. “We keep refining the match, the appointments,” he said.

This year, the Meet the Market format — in which smaller and new suppliers have 10-minute meetings with their category buyers — represented more than 8,000 face-to-face pre-arranged appointments.

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Retail clinic growth slowing down? Not a chance

BY Antoinette Alexander

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT The news that Target is looking to expand its retail-based clinic business this year is yet one more indicator that reports of the demise of retail clinic growth have been greatly exaggerated.

(THE NEWS: Target to expand its retail clinic presence. For the full story, click here)

As the article states, Target, which opened its first clinic in 2006, is looking to open up eight new locations this September. It already operates 28 locations in Minnesota and Maryland.

It wasn’t so long ago — April to be exact — that CVS Caremark’s MinuteClinic indicated that it could double its current number of clinics in five years.

Why the growth? Well, aside from the aging population and a shortage of primary care physicians, a major catalyst is healthcare reform, which will mean that 32 million people who currently are uninsured will have healthcare coverage. With emergency rooms already overflowing, and primary care physicians already over-extended, having a retail clinic nearby where patients can receive convenient, quality and affordable health care will only become increasingly important.

Meanwhile, RediClinic, which has 22 clinics in H-E-B stores in Houston and Austin, Texas, is cranking up its marketing efforts and has tapped former Duane Reade executive Jeff Thompson as VP marketing. Thompson will be responsible for RediClinic’s consumer and partner marketing activities, including developing and implementing strategic customer acquisition/retention programs, new product delivery and brand strategy.

Thompson most recently served as VP marketing for Duane Reade.

Clearly, there continues to be significant growth opportunities for clinics — both in terms of the number of clinic locations and the scope of services offered within the clinics. As mentioned earlier, there are 32 million reasons why the growth will be quite dramatic.

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