BEAUTY CARE

Meet the Market expands categories to bring more focus to one-on-ones

BY Jim Frederick

SAN DIEGO Let’s get acquainted. In eight minutes.

That’s the strategy behind Meet the Rx Market, a fruitful way for more than 100 mostly smaller suppliers to connect in a hurry-up meeting format with scores of retail pharmacy buyers and operations executives, talk about their products and, perhaps, establish relationships that extend far beyond the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Pharmacy and Technology Conference.

This year’s day-long series of meetings, held at the Marriott on the eve of the conference, Saturday, drew 131 supplier companies and 70 retail representatives of 41 pharmacy chains. All told, those companies generated more than 2,100 appointments during the event.

Meet the Market has proven a hit with retailers and suppliers at NACDS business events, with its rapid-fire meeting format and a strictly enforced time limit—similar to speed dating—that forces both sides to focus their discussions and get quickly to the point. The format allows just eight minutes for each round of meetings, which occur at hundreds of tables staffed by retail buyers and executives. Vendors are given two minutes between meetings to find their next scheduled appointment.

“One of the things that’s new this year is that we broadened the focus,” said Larry Lotridge, vice president of conference services for NACDS. “Last year we basically organized this into four categories: generic and branded pharmaceuticals, ‘other’ products, and services.”

This year, he told Drug Store News, NACDS significantly expanded the categories for discussion to spur a “much more targeted” series of meetings. In the weeks prior to the pharmacy conference, retailers and suppliers wishing to participate in Meet the Rx Market were given a broad list of specific product categories on which to base their eight-minute discussions in order to focus quickly on subjects to be addressed and match the right retail buyers with the right vendor representatives.

A computer program takes all the data and matches buyers to suppliers in a way that makes the meetings—and the meeting schedule—flow as efficiently and effectively as possible, according to NACDS. That means matching generic drug buyers with generic vendors, for example. The same holds true for people who deal in categories like home health care, personal care and pharmacy equipment and services, said Lotride.

“We’re trying to be much more targeted, so that you’re talking with exactly the person you need to, who works specifically with your service or product,” he explained. “On-target matches are what we’re shooting for.”

The result is a busy day, particularly for retailers, who host as many as six meetings an hour with vendors who rotate from one table to another at each eight-minute interval. The goal: to maximize time efficiency.

“Let’s face it: all of us are up against a wall with time constraints,” said Lotridge. “If you can focus in on the people that have a real interest in your product or service, that’s important to the exhibitor and to the retailer. And if they find new products they weren’t expecting to see, that’s even better.”

Retail buyers seem to respond well to the meeting format. That’s particularly true for representatives of smaller chains serving a single market or region. “We’re very small, and most of the vendors here are also smaller,” said Bill Earnest, chief operating officer of 10-store Kopp Drug. “It’s a challenge geographically for them to get to us, so this works well for us.”

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P&G sues RNA over Herbal Essences patents

BY Antoinette Alexander

CINCINNATI Procter & Gamble has filed a lawsuit against RNA Corp. alleging that the company has infringed on P&G’s Herbal Essences intellectual property, including trademark, trade dress and design patents.

“We believe this is a clear case of infringement designed to take advantage of the Herbal Essences’ business and its consumer loyalty,” stated Steven Jemison, P&G chief legal officer. “This is a serious case of intellectual property infringement, and we are asking the court to stop the distribution of these products to protect the equity of Herbal Essences.”

A spokesperson for RNA Corp. was not immediately available for comment.

The suit, filed in the Southern District of Ohio in Cincinnati, involves the company’s Herbal Essences logo and the design of the shampoo and conditioners bottles.

According to P&G, RNA Corp. is distributing shampoo and conditioner under the name Hydrating Herbal Shampoo and Hydrating Herbal Conditioner, which infringe the Herbal Essences intellectual property rights. P&G is asking RNA Corp. to be ordered to stop distributing the products, to recall the existing inventory from store shelves and the destroy the bottle molds.

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Guilty pleas entered in cases of counterfeit Colgate trafficking

BY Antoinette Alexander

WASHINGTON Two individuals and two corporations pleaded guilty Thursday in Brooklyn, N.Y., to charges of trafficking in counterfeit Colgate toothpaste, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Acting assistant attorney general Matthew Friedrich of the Criminal Division of U.S. attorney Benton J. Campbell for the Eastern District of New York announced that Saifoulaye Diallo of the Bronx; Habib Bah of Queens; and two New York corporations, Mabass Inc. and Vidtape Inc., pleaded guilty to trafficking in counterfeit goods in violation of criminal trademark laws.

“These defendants undermined the basic precept that consumers are safe to assume that when they purchase retail health and safety products they are buying what the label says they are buying. A parent should never have to fear that buying an everyday item like toothpaste could put a family at risk,” stated Friedrich. “This case demonstrates the department’s continued commitment to prosecute aggressively criminals who seek to profit by importing and distributing counterfeit goods that put out citizens’ health and safety in jeopardy.”

According to the department, the defendants admitted during the plea hearings to having trafficked in a combined total of 518,028 tubes of counterfeit Colgate toothpaste with an estimated retail value of $730,419. At sentencing, the individual defendants each face up to 10 years in prison, a fine of $2 million and three years of supervised release following their release from prison. The two corporate defendants face up to a $5 million fine, restitution and up to five years of organizational probation. Sentencing has been set for Jan. 9, 2009.

According to the criminal information filed in the case, lab tests conducted by the Food and Drug Administration and Colgate-Palmolive on samples of the counterfeit toothpaste revealed that they lacked fluoride, an ingredient found in genuine Colgate toothpaste, and that some of the toothpaste contained microorganisms, such as bacillus spores and diethylene glycol. Diethylene glycol, commonly used as a coolant for hydraulic and brake fluids, is illegally used in the production of counterfeit health care products to provide lubrication and help products maintain moisture. According to the FDA, the level of diethylene glycol contained in the counterfeit toothpaste can pose health and safety risks to all consumers but primarily to individuals with comprised immune systems, children and infants.

The information revealed that the packaging on the counterfeit toothpaste was substantially indistinguishable from the legitimate Colgate-Palmolive products except that it contained spelling and grammatical errors and erroneously stated that the toothpaste was made in South Africa. The defendants sold most of the counterfeit toothpaste at issue to secondary distributors and small to mid-size discount stores throughout several states in the United States.

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