HEALTH

NCPA hails Bush campaign to prevent teenage drug abuse

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The independent pharmacy industry’s chief advocacy group is hailing the Bush administration’s new campaign to prevent prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse by teenagers.

The White House launched the new campaign via an ad campaign, which kicked off in the highest-profile venue possible: during the Super Bowl Sunday night.

“The National Community Pharmacists Association applauds the [administration’s] announcement of a White House task force to address the abuse of legitimate prescriptions,” said Steve Giroux, an independent pharmacy owner from Middleport, N.Y., and president of NCPA. “Patients should routinely discuss the dangers of their prescriptions with the children in their homes, as well as with their community pharmacist.”

Giroux cited several factors in the increase in teen prescription and OTC drug abuse—and he took the chance to take a swipe at pharmacy benefit managers and mail-order pharmacies. “One problem associated with abuse of prescription drugs is the routine shipping of 90-day supplies through the mail from facilities owned by pharmacy benefit managers,” he said. “In most parts of the world, a 30-day supply is the norm—also the maximum amount that these same pharmacy benefit managers allow community pharmacies to dispense.

“With so many pills delivered in mailboxes or on front door steps, placed in the medicine cabinet or on the kitchen counter, it is very difficult for consumers to account for every painkiller … sleeping aid … or anti-anxiety medication … increasing the risk for teenagers or other family member to experiment with medications not prescribed for them,” Giroux added.

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Matrixx releases Q3 financial results

BY Michael Johnsen

PHOENIX Matrixx Initiatives Thursday morning released financial results for its fiscal 2008 third quarter and nine months ended Dec. 31.

And while the company recorded a net loss for the quarter of $635,000 and a 13.5 percent decline in net sales to $68 million, the period falls before the cold and flu illness rates began picking up in January.

“Our year-to-date results reflect the extreme weakness in the cold season through December,” commented Carl Johnson, Matrixx president and chief executive officer. “The incidence of colds and flu in the general population during the quarter … was the lowest since Zicam was introduced in 1999,” Johnson said, adding that the low incidence of illness was compounded by the fact that many retailers carried less inventory of cough and cold products going into this season than in seasons past. “This year our factory orders were nearly equal to retail unit consumption for the quarter ended Dec. 31,” he noted. “This change in factory orders more closely mirroring retail consumption leads us to believe factory orders will follow consumption more closely during our fourth quarter ending March 31.”

And that means a projected uptick in sales—Matrixx has projected fiscal 2008 net sales to be as much as 5 percent above the $97.6 million recorded last year.

“For the 12 weeks ended Dec. 30, category retail sales of cough and cold products decreased approximately 5 percent, compared to the prior year; and, during the same period, Zicam sales decreased 7 percent compared to the prior year,” Johnson said.

Matrixx also announced their transition from brokerage representation, courtesy of the Emerson Group, to an in-house sales force. “We believe our new sales force will help us achieve new product acceptance at retail, increase distribution and lower overall sales expense in the future,” Johnson said, adding that Matrixx has signed at least one national retailer in launching its Xcid antacid, which is expected to hit shelves by the end of March. A launch into the gastrointestinal space, if successful, will help to diversify Matrixx’ portfolio from its heavy reliance on the cough-cold season.

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CRN announces continuing education grant

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON The Council for Responsible Nutrition on Wednesday announced it would supply a grant to help support continuing education programs on dietary supplements for retail pharmacists.

“According to our annual CRN Consumer Confidence Survey, 40 percent of consumers say that they trust pharmacists as a reliable source of information on supplements, second only to doctors,” stated Judy Blatman, vice president, communications, CRN. “It’s so important that we help ensure pharmacists have appropriate education options when it comes to learning about our industry and its products. We selected Drug Store News Pharmacy Practice as the accredited education provider because of their long-term expertise in providing pharmacists with practical continuing education programs.”

The grant will allow retail pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to receive CE credits from one or two courses, by choosing either an on-line or in-print version. Drug Store News will market the program to pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy schools through a series of promotional emails, postcards and advertisements placed in the publication.

The first home study lesson—”The Regulation of Dietary Supplements”—will be presented by industry consultant Annette Dickinson. Dickinson has served as president of CRN in the past. It will be delivered in the April issue of Drug Store News Pharmacy Practice to 88,000 retail pharmacists and through an Internet based live webinar that will be presented twice in late February to allow for maximum participation. The program will also be available on the Drug Store News CE web site for three years. Participants who successfully complete the print program will receive two CE contact hours of credit, while webinar participants will receive one CE contact hour of credit.

The CE program will specifically address questions such as how dietary supplements are regulated; what pharmacists should know about dietary supplement regulations; what the new good manufacturing practices for dietary supplements mean; what the new adverse event reporting law means and what procedures should be taken if a pharmacist receives a report; and other upcoming issues relating to regulation of dietary supplements.

The educator for the second home study lesson is still to be determined; however, the topic will focus on dietary supplement research and the paradigm of prevention, presenting information on how dietary supplements are being studied by the scientific community and comparing research models for drugs and dietary supplements.

“We appreciate CRN’s educational grant and decision to work with Drug Store News,” stated Kimberly Werner, program director of CE Programs for Drug Store News. “Pharmacists are on the front lines when it comes to talking to consumers about their health decisions, so it is important that they are well-informed and well-educated.”

Registration for the webinar is currently open. Visit www.cedrugstorenews.com to register for the webinar. 

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