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Preserve Community Pharmacy Access NOW! coalition opposes ESI/Medco merger

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The Preserve Community Pharmacy Access NOW! coalition on Wednesday announced its opposition to the proposed merger between Express Scripts and Medco Health Solutions.

"The merger between two of these middlemen, which could go into effect as soon as early 2012, would create a mega-pharmacy benefit management company with excessive control over the health care of tens-of-millions of Americans. This would limit our access to and choice of pharmacies," the coalition stated.

“With a growing population competing for access to limited resources, Americans face enough challenges — including receiving equal and affordable access to quality health care," stated Eva Clayton, chairwoman for the Preserve Community Pharmacy Access NOW!. "This is particularly true for lower-income and minority Americans. … Creating a giant healthcare system middleman by combining Express Scripts and Medco will hurt quality, raise prices and limit access to our trusted community pharmacists," she said. "This simply is not in the best interests of patients, employers or health care in America, and I hope that Congress and the administration will stand up for American patients and oppose the merger.”


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Survey: Seniors not aware medicines can cause constipation

BY Michael Johnsen

STAMFORD, Conn. — Many of this country’s 80 million baby boomers who take medications for such conditions as pain, high cholesterol, hypertension and even depression are not aware that some of those medications could lead them to seek relief from occasional constipation, according to a nationwide survey of 1,150 men and women age 50 years or older taking medications for common medical conditions released by Purdue Products Wednesday.

About one-third of respondents (35%) were advised that possible side effects of their medications included occasional constipation. The survey also found that only 16% of those polled were aware that occasional constipation could be a possible side effect of their medications prior to talking to a healthcare provider. Nine-out-of-10 respondents (90%) who reported occasional constipation while taking their medication found this problem frustrating.

As many as 92% of the survey respondents said that healthcare providers should provide more information about side effects, such as occasional constipation, with particularly high agreement among people who reported suffering from occasional constipation (96%).

Occasional constipation was the side effect experienced most by survey respondents, with nearly 1-in-5 (17%) reporting they experienced increased occasional constipation since they started taking their medication.

Further, sufferers experience this problem an average of seven times per month, with a majority of respondents experiencing occasional constipation once a week or more (58%).

The vast majority of survey respondents (86%) agreed that occasional constipation can be a significant side effect of taking certain prescription medicines, with particularly high agreement among people who reported suffering from this problem (96%).

According to the survey, 86% of sufferers have taken some sort of action to relieve their occasional constipation. Specifically, they have increased their water consumption (74%), increased their fiber intake (72%) or taken stool softeners (67%).

"We commissioned this survey as part of our ongoing initiatives to provide healthcare professionals and consumers information about the importance of recognizing and relieving occasional constipation," stated Charlene Bailey, director of product management at Purdue Products. "With a majority of the consumers polled saying that occasional constipation is embarrassing to discuss and one-third of sufferers saying they have not discussed their occasional constipation with their healthcare provider, we will continue to get the word out about the treatment options available."

 


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Getting personal

BY Barbara White-Sax

Industry experts say growth in the photo department will come from personalized products. “The photo category of the future is in user-generated content,” said Steve Giordano Jr., president of Lucidiom. “Customers should be able to go into a drug store and purchase personalized invitations, banners and thank you notes for a party.”

Retailers, Giordano said, have to go deep in the category to be competitive. That means offering everything from invitations and sticky notes to photobooks.

Photobooks have shown annual gains of about 8%. “Photobooks take some creativity to produce, and they are not a 4×6 replacement,” said Gary Pageau, a spokesman for the Photo Marketing Association. “The model of standing at a kiosk for a long time is under challenge, so software that makes it easier to produce a great-looking photobook [will drive growth in the future].”

Greeting card applications are a promising area of growth for photo processing. Folded greeting card sales were up 35% at Lucidiom. Customized greeting cards often sell for less than the traditional cards in the greeting card aisle, but the industry hasn’t done a good job of communicating that to consumers.

Online order/retail pickup is growing 8% per year. The ability to access photos on Facebook has provided some growth to kiosk printing. “Images [on] Facebook can now be accessed at many 
kiosks, providing … another source of images,” Pageau said.

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