HEALTH

CRN to host free webinar on supplement regs for Pharmacist Society

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — Dietary supplement usage is up among Americans, according to a National Center for Health Statistics report released earlier this year — half of all U.S. adults supplement their diets, most likely with a multivitamin. And pharmacists are the No. 2 go-to source (behind doctors) for information around those supplements — according to a Council for Responsible Nutrition Survey on Dietary Supplements.

As a pharmacist, are you prepared to answer their questions?

CRN announced plans to host a free webinar on dietary supplement regulation via  the professional networking website Pharmacist Society, an online community sponsored by the Drug Store News Group that enables its members to have easy access to information most relevant to pharmacists.  The webinar is part of CRN’s ongoing initiative through the Pharmacist Society to help provide accurate information about the dietary supplement industry to pharmacists. 

The webinar will be held Dec. 14 and will be presented by Annette Dickinson, CRN consultant and former CRN president. Dickinson has more than 30 years experience in the dietary supplement industry and specializes in regulation.  The webinar will offer an historical perspective, leading up to an overview of current-day dietary supplement regulation. Following her presentation, participants will have the opportunity to ask questions via a live on-line Q&A chat.  Pharmacist Society site is a closed-loop environment for members only; so the webinar will not be open to the public.

“Pharmacists are a very important audience for our industry, as consumers tell us pharmacists are one of their most highly trusted sources for information about dietary supplements," stated Judy Blatman, SVP communications at CRN. "Working with Pharmacist Society is a forward-thinking and efficient way for us to reach this segment of the healthcare community … There’s a lot of misinformation about dietary supplement regulation, and we’re pleased to have the opportunity to help shed some light on the subject for the pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and other individuals who participate in this webinar.” 

CRN joined Pharmacist Society earlier this year, representing the dietary supplement industry. As a member of Pharmacist Society, CRN posts news and background information relevant to pharmacists, conducts online surveys to learn about what’s important to pharmacists, and is available as a resource for its growing number of “friends and followers” to answer any questions they may have about dietary supplements. CRN queried its 2,300 followers to determine which topics would be of most interest for a webinar on dietary supplements: regulation was the most requested topic among the community.  

“CRN’s successful integration into Pharmacist Society has been a tremendous boon to the site and we are pleased that the association is using this unique component of the site to have a real-time conversation with users on a subject of importance to both CRN and the pharmacists,” stated Wayne Bennett, publisher, Drug Store News Group. “This tool is a great way to speak with and engage pharmacists. As with any growing social networking platform, the opportunity is to find fun and interesting ways to make users want to keep coming back."

Pharmacist Society was launched Nov. 1, 2010. Among the many useful applications is the ability to post news and press releases, a message board area to start conversations on topics of interest, a section where users can conduct online polls and the ability to host online webcam chats and webinars. Drug Store News is the multimedia industry news and information leader serving retail pharmacy industry executives, decision makers and influencers in print, online and at events.


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Celestial Seasonings launches Kombucha Energy Shots

BY Allison Cerra

BOULDER, Colo. — Celestial Seasonings has introduced an energy shot that combines B vitamins, botanicals and kombucha, a fermented black tea.

Kombucha Energy Shots are packaged in single-serve, 2-fl.-oz. bottles and are available in citrus, berry and Pomegranate Xtreme varieties.

"Our new Kombucha Energy Shots help satisfy the need for an all-natural and healthful option in the energy shot category," Celestial Seasonings VP and chief marketing officer Blake Waltrip saod. "Consumers have told us that the energy boost provided by kombucha is the primary reason they enjoy it, and Kombucha Energy Shots support natural energy while meeting our high standards for quality."

Kombucha Energy Shots currently are available at Whole Foods locations nationwide, with expansion to other stores starting in December.

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Study: Competitive bidding hurts independent Rx

BY Michael Johnsen

Diabetes has always been a core competency for independent pharmacy operators. To that end, the National Community Pharmacists Association in October released results from a survey of more than 800 independent community pharmacists about the negative consequences for their patients and their businesses if diabetes testing supplies under Medicare Part B are subjected to competitive bidding prices.

“The message from our survey is clear: Applying competitive bidding prices for diabetes testing supplies to independent community pharmacies is financially unsustainable for these pharmacies,” stated NCPA EVP and CEO Douglas Hoey.

“Community pharmacists are indispensable to helping combat diabetes, whether it is the counseling they offer, the medications they dispense, the lifestyle modification classes they provide or the testing supplies they carry,” Hoey added. “But that dynamic will be harmed if these small-business pharmacies are forced to walk away from a pricing structure that only a large warehouse can make work. Such a mass exodus of community pharmacies from Medicare Part B would diminish seniors’ access, and the health complications that could ensue will only increase overall health costs.”

Diabetes is typically the first disease state addressed by wholesalers looking to expand the patient services offerings of their member independents. For example, Cardinal Health last year introduced its Specialized Care Centers concept with diabetes as the focus. “Every wholesaler has a diabetes ‘something,’” said Steve Lawrence, SVP retail independent sales for Cardinal. “Ours focuses on training the pharmacist [on] how to teach people to live with diabetes itself, knowing that the patients will then buy the products. But instead of focusing on products, it’s more about becoming a healthcare adviser for them on their diabetes, and what we’re seeing is pharmacists actually charging for that and gaining extra revenue while [at the same time] gaining new patients and picking up new product sales.”

McKesson’s Health Mart pharmacy franchise group earlier this month debuted a new Health Mart-branded private-label line with diabetes products to coincide with American Diabetes Month.

Other results from the NCPA survey included:

  • 81% of independents reported that their average Medicare diabetes patient visits his or her independent community pharmacy two or more times per month for counseling and/or diabetes testing supplies;

  • 84% of community pharmacists surveyed said they would likely drop out of the program if forced to take reduced payments or competitively bid;

  • If their patients were forced to obtain diabetes supplies by other means, 84% of pharmacists said their patients would suffer a significant impact; and

  • The majority (81%) of independent community pharmacies regularly deliver diabetes testing supplies to patients — often free of charge — with 28% making 30 or more deliveries per month. Without that home delivery and counseling from a community pharmacist, 65% of pharmacists predicted a significant impact on these patients, many of whom are unable to leave their homes.

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