PHARMACY

HealthSpot unveils walk-in kiosk at New York CES event

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — A healthcare technology company introduced its latest health kiosk at a consumer-electronics event in New York.

HealthSpot showed off the HealthSpot Station at CES Unveiled New York. The walk-in kiosk provides acute care patients with live access to board-certified doctors through high-definition video conferencing and interactive digital medical devices.

"Our mission at HealthSpot is to work with top healthcare providers to extend affordable, timely and convenient access to health care within every community across America," HealthSpot CEO Steve Cashman said.

Teleconferencing between patients and physicians could become a necessary component of the healthcare mix in the future. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, there will be a shortage of 130,000 physicians by 2025, while the Department of Health and Human Services estimated that 40 million Americans will have new access to health insurance by 2014 under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. "Trends in health care demand innovative solutions to increase access to healthcare services at a cost-effective price," Cashman said. "It is simply physically impossible for our country’s healthcare system to continue on its current path."


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PHARMACY

Ranbaxy launches branded acne drug

BY Alaric DeArment

PRINCETON, N.J. — Ranbaxy Labs has launched a new treatment for acne under a licensing agreement with a Canadian drug maker.

Ranbaxy announced Monday the launch of Absorbica (isotretinoin) capsules for treating severe recalcitrant nodular acne in patients ages 12 years and older. The drug was launched under a license from Mississauga, Ontario-based Cipher Pharmaceuticals.

Normally, oral isotretinoin must be taken with a high-fat meal due to its chemical properties, but Absorbica is designed to be taken without food.


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PHARMACY

Fred’s eyes smaller box concept, specialty solution to grow pharmacy business

BY Michael Johnsen

During Fred’s third-quarter earnings call, the company told analysts it was testing a new, smaller format drug-dollar store concept and that its partnership with Diplomat was creating new clinical capabilities for the chain, which still sees pharmacy as a major growth opportunity. 

The more Memphis-area patients continue singing those Delta blues, the more they’re going to be scuffling through Fred’s doors in their blue suede shoes. Effectively serving that economically-challenged patient is just one reason why Fred’s third-quarter call this week should resonate across the industry. Because Fred’s is in pursuit of two trends that are critical to its future — a specialty pharmacy solution that gains Fred’s entree into the only growth-game in pharmacy, and an answer to its big-box competitors with a small-footprint, dollar-store/pharmacy hybrid. 

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics, between 2009 and 2010, the prevalence of two or more chronic conditions for adults ages 45 to 64 years was more than twice as high among those living in poverty as among those at 400% or more of the poverty level. The disparity for those over 65 years was less drastic — 50.9% of seniors living below the poverty level had two or more chronic conditions vs. 39% of seniors at 400% or more of the poverty level. 

But here’s the clincher — most patients over the age of 65 will be covered under Medicare plans. For those who aren’t, and for low-income patients, they’ll be covered under Medicaid. If Fred’s is reaching and catering its mix to value-consious shoppers, then they may have greater penetration among a Medicaid patient population, the rolls of which are set to expand in 2014 as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. 

So Fred’s is engaging a higher-touch, greater-prospective-growth business through Diplomat and more of the company’s core consumers may be eligible for specialty pharmaceutical coverage come 2014. 

Fred’s, of course, isn’t the only forward-looking retail pharmacy operator who realizes the value of having a strong specialty pharmacy acumen — Kroger just last week acquired its own specialty pharmacy in Axium Pharmacy Holdings. And in last week’s fix, DSN’s Alaric DeArment explained how more retail pharmacy operators are banking on specialty as to where the pharmaceutical money will be

Not to be overlooked is Fred’s development of a new retail format that will better fit into smaller markets, where Walmart and other big-box retailers likely aren’t, and still address the company’s value-consious consumer base. While most economically-challenged consumers are considered value-conscious consumers, not all value-consious consumers are economically challenged. That may explain why two-out-of-three shoppers regularly visit a dollar store when they’re out and about running their errands, according to a recent SymphonyIRI Group report. 

And Fred’s isn’t the only value-driven retailer eyeing pharmacy. Dollar Tree has been piloting a third-party pharmacy in Florida under its Deal$ banner and Family Dollar has been increasing its sway in health and beauty care. Can pharmacy be too far behind for Family Dollar? They haven’t committed to any public disclosures, but this is what president and COO Mike Bloom had to say in October: "Our customer research indicates that our customers over-indexed in 18 of the top 20 ailments affecting the U.S. population. Many of our customers do not have health insurance, so we are providing them with more solutions to take care of themselves and their families. We are encouraged by the early results in these categories, which typically take longer to ramp up."

What do you think? Can a full-fledged national dollar channel pharmacy be too far behind?

 

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