PHARMACY

Grand View Research: Global mHealth market to exceed $20 billion by 2020

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN FRANCISCO — Grand View Research projects that the global mHealth market will reach well in excess of $20 billion from a base of $2 billion in 2012, as part of a recent market research study. Between 2014 and 2020, the firm estimates a CAGR of 47.6%. 

In 2012, monitoring services represented the largest segment, accounting for about 63% of the overall market share. Monitoring services include independent aging solutions, chronic disease management and post acute care services, as well as devices such as body trackers that are employed to monitor vital signs.

In addition to monitoring services, key mHealth services analyzed and reported in the study include diagnostic services and healthcare systems strengthening. Other services primarily comprise wellness and prevention, and are focused on elderly care, drug abuse prevention, healthy living, smoking de-addiction and child care. 

These mHealth services will be most prevalent in large urban centers. Growing urbanization and purchasing power has resulted in proliferation of smartphones and related devices, along with 3G and 4G networks, which is expected to be a significant driving force for the industry on a global scale, Grand View Research reported. 3G and 4G LTE networks enable services such as high-speed data transfer and video calling, which helps in rapid delivery of telemedicine services. 

And rising incidences of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart ailments and diabetes is also a key contributor to growing demand, the firm added. Changing lifestyle and increasing aging population has resulted in growing prevalence of diseases, and mobile applications help patients control and manage them efficiently. 

However, security concerns and the need to maintain a secure infrastructure to ensure data safety and privacy may negatively impact the market over the next six years, Grand View Research cautioned. 

 

 

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Fred’s focus is on pharmacy and Hometown Auto & Hardware departments going forward

BY Michael Johnsen

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Fred’s Super Dollar on Thursday posted $157.5 million in sales, representing a decline of 1%, for the four weeks ended March 1. Comparable store sales for the month decreased 2.2% compared with a decrease of 1.5% in the prior-year period.

“In the pharmacy department, we will continue to accelerate new pharmacy acquisitions and focus on our plan for EIRIS Health Services, Fred’s specialty pharmacy unit, which is experiencing solid script and sales growth in this fast-expanding segment of the pharmacy industry," noted Bruce Efird, Fred’s CEO.

Fred’s also plans to implement its reconfiguration plan in 60 to 80 stores with the Hometown Auto & Hardware department and seasonal expansions.

The decline in sales was credited to weather, as "extreme cold temperatures, ice and snow across the southeast during February were major factors behind the lower-than-expected comparable store sales for the month," Efird said. "Like January, this weather disrupted consumer shopping trends, resulting in store closings and reduced operating hours at a significant number of our locations. Despite the weather, we continued to see positive comparable store sales during February in the Hometown Auto & Hardware, pet and pharmacy departments."

During February, Fred’s opened two new pharmacies within existing stores.

 

 

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DEA pushes forward on rescheduling hydrocodone combination products

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — In what could turn into a significant change of how retail pharmacy supplies hydrocodone combination products, the Drug Enforcement Administration last week published in the Federal Register a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to move HCPs from Schedule III to Schedule II, as recommended by the assistant secretary for Health of the department of Health and Human Services and as supported by the DEA’s evaluation of relevant data.  

However, the move may severely restrict access to necessary pain medication for legitimate patients. For patients, reclassifying hydrocodone compounds as a schedule II substance would require them to make a doctor’s visit every time they need a prescription. Refills of schedule II drugs are not permissible; and the prescriptions have to be original copies. That represents a cost barrier for many pain sufferers. 

The rescheduling of hydrocodone compounds also will have repercussions up and down the supply chain, in large part because of the sheer volume of prescriptions that would be reclassified. In 2012, pain was the No. 2 most-prescribed therapeutic class of medicines, with 472 million prescriptions written, according to IMS Health. The most-prescribed medicine for the year was hydrocodone/acetaminophen, with 135.3 million prescriptions written for the pain-relieving compound. 

At the wholesale level, schedule II substances have to be stored in a locked vault vs. being restricted to a caged area, meaning drug distributors would need to make wholesale capital investments in expanding their vault space. And retailers would likewise need to invest in larger security storage units in an effort to be compliant with the new schedule. 

The speculation among retail pharmacy experts is that the increase in investment could force many pharmacies, especially smaller community pharmacies serving rural patients, to reconsider carrying HCPs. 

Members of the public are invited to submit comments or request a hearing through www.regulations.gov.  Electronic comments must be submitted, or written comments postmarked, by 11:59 p.m. EST on April 27. Requests for hearings must be submitted by March 31, the DEA noted.  

Once the public comment period has closed and the DEA has considered all comments, the DEA will publish a Final Rule in the Federal Register.

The rescheduling of HCPs was initiated by a petition from a physician in 1999. The DEA submitted a request to HHS for a scientific and medical evaluation of HCPs and a scheduling recommendation.

In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration held a public Advisory Committee meeting on the matter, and the committee voted to recommend rescheduling HCPs from Schedule III to Schedule II by a vote of 19 to 10. With the receipt of that recommendation, the DEA initiated the formal rulemaking process by publishing a notice and soliciting public comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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