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Possible silver lining for pharmacy retailers in wake of HHS decision on Plan B

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — "I am appalled that politics has once again trumped science," wrote Brooklyn College Health Clinic director and nurse practitioner Ilene Tannenbaum in a letter to the New York Times. That reaction summed up much of the medical community’s response to the Department of Health and Human Services’ overruling of the Food and Drug Administration’s decision to make the Plan B contraceptive pill a full nonprescription product.

(THE NEWS: Medical community decries decision to maintain status quo of emergency contraceptive. For the full story, click here)

But a key difference between a physician’s office and a retail pharmacy is that people don’t walk into the latter by appointment and under a cloak of confidentiality — retail pharmacies are called the most accessible healthcare facilities for a reason. Thus, making Plan B available to anyone of any age would likely raise a lot of eyebrows, particularly among parents uncomfortable with the idea of their daughters becoming sexually active and having a convenient way to prevent conception. So whatever the medical merits or demerits for making the drug easier to buy, at least retailers will be spared the need to explain its easier accessibility to the communities in which they operate, not to mention the many awkward moments that could result.

From a scientific standpoint, however, some of HHS’ reasons for not removing Plan B’s prescription status could raise a lot of eyebrows as well. HHS said that Teva Pharmaceutical Industries hadn’t shown that 11-year-old girls could safety take the drug. But in another letter to the Times, Guttmacher Institute director of domestic research Lawrence Finer pointed out that less than 1% of girls that age are sexually active, while almost half of girls have had sex before the age of 17.

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Bic models new lighter series after ‘Orange County Choppers’

BY Allison Cerra

SHELTON, Conn. — Bic has introduced a new lighter series that features custom motorcycles from "Orange County Choppers."

The Orange County Choppers lighters line includes 10 designs, including one that features an image of the custom-made bike produced for Bic (and themed after the BIC Flex4 men’s razor), which OCC built on-air for an episode of last season’s "American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior."

The new lighters carry a suggested retail price of $1.79.

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FastCare to celebrate new Einstein FastCare Clinic in Philadelphia

BY Antoinette Alexander

PHILADELPHIA — Bellin Health Care Systems, which established the FastCare brand of retail health clinics in 2006, is celebrating on Dec. 14 the opening of the new Einstein FastCare clinic in the ShopRite of Cheltenham, owned by Brown’s Super Stores.

Leaders of the convenient care industry and dignitaries representing the City of Philadelphia and the Cheltenham Township will convene to celebrate the opening.

The clinic, staffed by nurse practitioners from the Einstein Healthcare Network, will offer a range of primary care and preventive services with an electronic entitlement application service. Nationally, more than 50 health systems operate or partner with convenient care clinics. Einstein Healthcare Network is the second healthcare system in Philadelphia to open a convenient care clinic and the first to open a clinic in an underserved area of the city.

“We have found health systems to be good partners for these clinics, with their existing ties to the local community, utilization of electronic health records, and focus on quality and continuity of care. Partnerships like this one, between Einstein and ShopRite, represent the next generation of convenient care clinics moving into underserved areas,” stated Ken Berndt of FastCare, which partners with 30 health systems to operate clinics around the country.

The ShopRite location where the clinic will be housed has been extensively renovated to coincide with the FastCare opening.

“The Convenient Care Association is a proud partner to FastCare, Einstein and Brown’s Super Stores, and supports these efforts to provide patients with comprehensive access to the goods and services they need to stay healthy,” added Tine Hansen-Turton, executive director of the Philadelphia-based Convenient Care Association, the national trade association representing the retail-based health clinic industry.

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