NCPA rejects proposed swipe fee settlement
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Community Pharmacists Association on Wednesday rejected a proposed settlement in relation to the antitrust lawsuit that NCPA and other parties have brought against several banks regarding alleged collusive practices, including swipe fees at exorbitant levels and limiting competition.
"After closely reviewing this complex and multifaceted proposed agreement along with legal counsel, NCPA’s board concluded that the settlement is insufficient and that accepting it would not be in the best interest of merchants and the independent community pharmacy owners that NCPA represents," NCPA CEO Douglas Hoey said. "NCPA joined this lawsuit to achieve meaningful, long-term reforms to the current swipe fee system. This proposed settlement came woefully short by not imposing necessary fundamental changes to the structure of the industry and the rules affecting merchants, particularly small-business community pharmacies."
According to the NCPA, the settlement appears to offer merchants the ability to pass along some excessive credit card fees to their customers in order to incentivize consumers to use alternative, lower-cost methods of payment, but "enough strings are attached and existing barriers exist to effectively eliminate this as an option." In addition, the settlement broadly curtails pharmacies and other merchants from taking any future action against the credit card companies by releasing any and all claims going forward. "Finally, nothing in this agreement restrains the credit card companies from imposing significantly higher fees for years to come, effectively wiping out the monetary component of the settlement," Hoey added.
Ford Sync AppLink drives mobile health with Allergy Alert app
DEARBORN, Mich. — Ford Motor Co. on Thursday announced that IMS Health’s Allergy Alert application now is compatible with Ford Sync AppLink to give drivers a safe way to check the potential for scratchy eyes, sore throats and runny noses while on the go.
"Mobile health apps are changing the way consumers manage their own wellness, and Ford Sync provides the platform to extend this growing trend to the driving experience," said Doug VanDagens, global director of Ford Connected Services. "The Sync AppLink-enabled Allergy Alert app allows drivers to quickly check current and upcoming pollen and other health risk conditions with simple voice commands while keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road."
With Sync AppLink, drivers can connect smartphones or tablets to their cars, and by using simple voice commands are able to quickly access information from Allergy Alert — while not having to take their hands off the wheel or eyes off the road.
Through the app’s pollen index rating, drivers can request to hear the types of allergen conditions they are likely to encounter that may cause a flare-up in personal allergy symptoms. The app also provides a risk index for asthma, cough-cold-flu and ultraviolet rays.
"Pollen affects everyone differently, and the IMS app was developed to specifically help people on the move improve their quality of life," said Dan Barton, U.S. head of product development for IMS Health. "Our experience with allergy sufferers suggests a strong demand for real-time information. The technology we’ve applied in the Ford Sync AppLink-equipped car helps drivers better prepare for the allergens they may encounter on the road by delivering reliable, timely and relevant information related to their destination. The app gives users the ability to more consistently manage their symptoms."
In spring of last year, Ford kicked off a series of research projects for in-car health-and-wellness-connected services, such as medical device connectivity, cloud-based health management services and mobile app integration. In just over a year, Ford now is delivering on the initial research with Allergy Alert as one of the first steps toward helping drivers to take care of themselves and their passengers.
"We are attempting to create the car that cares," noted Gary Strumolo, global manager of Ford Research and Innovation. "We want to change the paradigm that in-car connectivity systems, such as Sync, can only be used for information and entertainment purposes. Health and wellness are key issues for our customers outside of the car; therefore, we want to leverage our connectivity platform to improve their time behind the wheel. The trend in mobile health is all about knowing potential health concerns before they happen so that they don’t surprise a person, even while driving."
Merrick Pet Care launches new dog food recipes
AMARILLO, Texas — Merrick Pet Care has introduced a new line of dog food recipes.
Calling it a "pet food revolution," the company said the new line is made according to the highest nutritional standards and features seven classic varieties (containing 60% meat/poultry/fish, 20% fruits and vegetables and 20% whole grains) and four grain-free varieties (containing 70% meat/poultry/fish and 30% fruits and vegetables). Merrick Pet Care also is encouraging consumers to visit the brand’s Facebook page to receive updates on the 11 new dog food recipes, which will tout new packaging and soon be rolled out to stores and online.
"Our intention is to create the most nutritionally superior products available. Because dogs want what we want: real whole food, worthy of a fork," Merrick VP marketing Carolyn Hanigan said. "We invite pet parents to join us in the food revolution. Merrick will ensure dogs everywhere get the food they’ve been begging for."