HEALTH

New study sheds light on how pharmacies respond to emergency contraceptive inquiries

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — Pharmacies may be misinforming teenagers about where they can locate emergency contraceptives without a prescription, according to a new study published in Pediatrics.

The study, led by Tracey Wilkinson of the Boston Medical Center and colleagues, had female callers pose as 17-year-old females or as physicians calling on behalf of teenage patients. By using standardized scripts, the callers telephoned 943 pharmacies across five major U.S. cities: Nashville, Tenn.; Philadelphia; Cleveland, Ohio; Austin, Texas; and Portland, Ore. While the majority of the pharmacies indicated the emergency contraceptive was available — 759 pharmacies indicated to "17-year-old" callers and 766 of them indicated to "physician" callers that EC was available — 19% of the pharmacies surveyed, or 145 pharmacies, incorrectly told callers that obtaining EC was impossible, compared with 23 of pharmacies (3%) that indicated obtaining EC was impossible to callers that posed as physicians. Additional findings included:

  • Pharmacies conveyed the correct age to dispense EC without a prescription in 431 adolescent calls (57%) and 466 physician calls (61%);

  • Compared with physician callers, adolescent callers were put on hold more often (54% versus 26%) and spoke to self-identified pharmacists less often (3% versus 12%); and

  • When EC was not available, 36% and 33% of pharmacies called by adolescents and physicians, respectively, offered no additional suggestions on how to obtain it.

"We believe that our study demonstrates that despite attempts to improve access to EC by lowering the age at which a prescription is required to 17 [years old], there still appears to be substantial access barriers for adolescents, largely based on misinformation," the study authors concluded. "Given the recent [Food and Drug Administration] decision not to change the prescription age requirements for EC, it appears from our study results that additional education regarding the current rules around EC dispensing is needed for pharmacy staff, adolescents, and physicians attempting to obtain this medication."


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HEALTH

Neptune signs John Elway as pitchman for krill oil product

BY Michael Johnsen

LAVAL, Quebec — Neptune Technologies and Bioressources on Tuesday announced that Denver Broncos EVP football operations and retired star quarterback John Elway has signed on as a spokesman for the company’s Neptune Krill Oil brand.

"This is an exceptional day for our company and we could not be more pleased to partner with one of the best professional football players to ever play the game," Neptune president and CEO Henri Harland said.

The move may be in preparation of a U.S. retail launch. In February, Neptune announced that Jamieson Labs would license Neptune’s krill oil product as Jamieson Omega-3 Super Krill across the Canadian health-and-wellness marketplace. “We have been watching krill as an ingredient for several years, and are bringing it to market at the right time and with the right partner," stated Jillan Mariani, director brand marketing for Jamieson.

For a video featuring Elway’s support of the product, click here.


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HEALTH

Circling germ protection

BY Michael Johnsen

LAS VEGAS — Oasis Consumer Healthcare’s Halo oral antiseptic ought to make a big splash in the 2012-2013 cough-cold season. The new product launched in late February at an ECRM conference in Las Vegas and was voted “Best New Product” by retail buyers attending the event.


The Halo antiseptic spray is designed to coat the back of the throat for up to six hours to help to protect against airborne germs. Suggested retail price for Halo is $12.99, and the product will be merchandised alongside immunity system boosters in the cough-cold aisle.

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