HEALTH

Drugstore.com teams with Medco to offer members expanded online health store

BY Michael Johnsen

BELLEVUE, Wash. Drugstore.com on Thursday announced a strategic alliance with Medco Health Solutions, under which Medco will offer its members access to an integrated online store featuring a wide range of non-prescription consumer health products, including over-the-counter medicines, expected to begin in mid-2009.

“We look forward to developing this exciting new offering with Medco, which provides pharmacy benefits for over 60 million Americans,” stated Dawn Lepore, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of drugstore.com. “The alliance supports our strategy to leverage the drugstore.com ecommerce health, beauty and wellness platform and extend our leadership in consumer health merchandising, marketing, fulfillment, and customer care.”  

Drugstore.com will provide technical development and operation services, consumer health products and OTC merchandising, fulfillment capabilities and customer care for the non-prescription-drug offerings in the Medco branded online store.

“We envision this collaboration with drugstore.com will, over time, enable Medco to efficiently develop and deliver a broad spectrum of new consumer-based products and services that complement our prescription drug expertise and extend the continuum of care for the approximately one in five Americans we serve nationwide,” John Driscoll, president of new markets for Medco Health Solutions, said.

Through the agreement, Medco will provide its members access to a comprehensive portfolio of health-related products that complement prescription drug care—especially for patients with chronic and complex conditions. Members will be presented with a tailored set of non-prescription products aligned with their known health condition, and access to a broader set of consumer health items that provide convenient one-stop shopping. Members will also benefit from an advanced safety net to help ensure that for certain OTC medicines they are informed of interactions with the prescription drugs that they may also be taking—a growing issue in the retail pharmacy environment as more medicines transition from prescription to OTC availability.

Flexible spending account services for Medco clients and members will be supported through the drugstore.com SIGIS certified system to identify and approve FSA-eligible over-the-counter products. FSA debit cards are accepted and FSA-only receipts may be printed for reimbursement.

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NFL players identify supplement as source of positive steroids test

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK A trio of National Football League players have fingered the dietary supplement industry in their defense against a positive test for the banned prescription diuretic bumetanide, claiming that the ingredient was found in the Nikki Haskell’s StarCaps weight-loss supplement, which is sold in specialty outlets GNC, Vitamin Shoppe and Great Earth Vitamin Stores according to the StarCaps Web site.

The ingredient is not listed among the dietary supplement ingredients for StarCaps; and there appears to have been no warning letters to date issued by the Food and Drug Administration citing StarCaps for distributing a prescription drug in a nonprescription setting. There also appears to be no action taken by the Federal Trade Commission regarding the company.

However, David Cornwell, attorney for New Orleans Saints players Deuce McAllister, Will Smith and Charles Grant, in a statement issued Wednesday suggested that the NFL had prior knowledge as to StarCaps containing bumetanide. “John Lombardo, the Steroid Policy’s Independent Administrator, testified that he learned in late 2006 that StarCaps contain the diuretic, bumetanide. Dr. Lombardo did not inform NFL players because he feared that a specific warning regarding StarCaps could be used as a defense to alleged violations of the Steroid Policy that involved weight reduction products other than StarCaps,” Cornwell said, as reported on ESPN.com. “Lombardo’s failure to disclose what he knew about StarCaps may have exposed NFL players to the significant health risks associated with the unintentional ingestion of diuretics. If Lombardo had notified NFL players that StarCaps contained bumetanide, Will, Deuce and Charles would have never used the product to lose weight.”

On StarCaps’ Web site, the company has reported it has suspended shipping of StarCaps pending an investigation into its own product. “We’ve received notice of a problem with an NFL player,” the company said. “We have referred the matter to our counsel and are taking all necessary steps to ensure that our customers receive product that is safe and effective.”

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J&J pulls online Motrin ad after negative social networking site reactions

BY Jenna Duncan

LANGHORNE, Pa. Health and personal care giant Johnson & Johnson was urged to take down an online video ad for Motrin brand ibuprophen geared towards mothers who suffer pain from carrying babies during the day after some Internet users responded that the ad was insensitive, reports said.

The video interstitial featured a barrage of moving text and line art images which showed back, neck and shoulder pain related to carrying babies in slings and packs. Some viewers took issue with the use of language that suggested carrying a baby all day was “in fashion,” as well as other statements related to motherhood and pain.

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