HEALTH

Hollywood elite get behind fitness water launch

BY Michael Johnsen

LOS ANGELES — Music mogul Sean Combs and actor/producer Mark Wahlberg on Wednesday announced a joint venture with fitness and wellness water brand AQUAhydrate. Per the arrangement, Combs and Wahlberg will oversee business strategy along with CEO John Cochran, former president of Fiji Water.  

Together they will help drive the AQUAhydrate brand and be instrumental in helping secure retail partnerships for the water brand, such as their recently signed deals with Safeway, Kroger and GNC.

Already voted BevNET’s Best of 2012 award for Best Product Revamp, AQUAhydrate is a high-performance water that is formulated with performance-grade electrolytes and a higher pH level of 9+ and has caught the attention of elite athletes, active health-conscious consumers and celebrities.  

AQUAhydrate recently inked an official partnership with the Los Angeles Clippers on distribution to the team on and off the court.  

"This is a truly innovative company, and I’m thrilled to be part of it," Wahlberg said. "We all strive to do the best we can for our bodies, but sometimes schedules, stress and other factors get in the way."

"As a brand architect, I am incredibly passionate and equally committed to every aspect of the businesses that I get involved with," Combs added. "Partnering with AQUAhydrate and Mark is an incredible opportunity for me, and I am looking forward to making history in the process. … Together, we’re going to take AQUAhydrate to the next level."

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House calls for GAO review of pending diabetes supply reimbursement changes

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Community Pharmacists Association on Wednesday commended a bipartisan push for the Government Accountability Office to review the impact on patients of sharp reductions in reimbursement for diabetes test supplies provided by community pharmacies to Medicare beneficiaries. 

“We are concerned about the impact of this reimbursement reduction, and what it will mean for beneficiaries’ access to [diabetes testing supplies] and their ability to maintain their current brand of testing strips,” both Reps. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., and Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., noted in a letter to the GAO. “We ask that you begin this study immediately as we believe that it is of the utmost importance to diabetes patients in America."

Specifically, the representatives asked GAO to examine the cuts’ impact on the number of DTS suppliers; the quality of the DTS available to beneficiaries; the distance beneficiaries may need to travel in rural areas to obtain their supplies; patient adherence to their testing regimen; and the degree to which beneficiaries receive DTS via mail that they did not request or do not need.

Reimbursement for DTS products is scheduled to be reduced in April and then again July 1 when one national payment rate is adopted by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The two cuts combined represent a 72% average decrease in reimbursement for retail pharmacies.

Previous surveys of independent community pharmacists have found that 92% would be forced to stop offering DTS rather than accept below-cost reimbursement, NCPA noted.

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Nordic Naturals, Lipid Technologies partner on omega-3 blood test distribution to doctors

BY Michael Johnsen

WATSONVILLE, Calif. — Nordic Naturals and Lipid Technologies on Tuesday developed a partnership to ensure that practitioners have easy access to the Holman Omega-3 Blood Spot Test for their patients. The Holman Omega-3 Blood Spot Test delivers a fast, easy and accurate measurement of a person’s omega-3 levels, which can aid in making informed choices about diet and supplementation. 

“Through this exclusive agreement between Nordic Naturals and Lipid Technologies, licensed healthcare practitioners are now able to open a lab account with Lipid and receive complimentary testing materials,” stated Doug Bibus, director of Lipid Technologies. “Practitioners only pay when their patients decide to test and submit samples.” 

Both companies are hoping that the increased accessibility of this diagnostic tool will rapidly open the doors for new practitioners to bring omega-3 testing protocols into their practice to help their patients eliminate omega-3 deficiencies.

Nordic Naturals will warehouse and ship the test kits to practitioners, and Lipid Labs will process and deliver the test results. In addition, Nordic Naturals will be providing free educational material for licensed practitioners and patients.

“Optimal tissue concentrations of omega-3s are essential to health,” added Monique Wellise, Nordic Naturals professional division sales manager. “As a brand that specializes in omega-3 oils and a division that serves the needs of healthcare professionals, our objective is to truly partner with practitioners through programs and products, and the use of educational tools that drive patient success with omega-3s.

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