Reporters Notebook


Supplier News

Kaz, the maker of Vicks, Honeywell and Braun wellness devices, recently launched a new Facebook fan page named Cold and Flu Central, created to help inform families around some of the best defenses against colds and flu. The page includes doctor-approved tips, third-party expert advice and links, product giveaways, info on drug store availability, and discussions and polls. Jennifer Trachtenberg, chief pediatric officer for, is the featured pediatrician on the site.

Aisle7 recently released its Aisle7 Mobile suite, a collection of customizable mobile apps that enable retailers to reach health-conscious shoppers on the go. Aisle7 Mobile features a configurable architecture that allows a retailer to customize its mobile application and select the functionality, features and health-and-wellness content that appeals to its shopper base.

Alcon has launched Systane Balance lubricant eye drops, formulated with HP Guar, borate, sorbitol, propylene glycol and Alcon’s exclusive LipiTech System, an emulsion technology of mineral oil and an anionic phospholipid. The new eye drop is designed to restore the lipid layer and the natural tear film to allow for relief of dry-eye symptoms.

“Meibomian gland dysfunction is a significant cause of dry-eye symptoms, and now patients who suffer from dry eye associated with MGD can use Systane Balance to restore their lipid layer, re-establish their natural tear film and maintain their tear film stability,” stated Sabri Markabi, Alcon chief medical officer and SVP research and development. MGD is the most common cause of evaporative dry eye with an estimated 50% of dry-eye patients experiencing MGD.

Unlike some other drops where blurring may be a concern, patients reported minimal blur after instilling drops of Systane Balance, the company stated.

Professional Therapy MuscleCare last month was awarded “best new product” at the ECRM Health Management EPPS. The award, sponsored by Drug Store News, is presented to the manufacturer that collects the most “best new product” votes from retailers attending the event.

As part of its initial rollout, MuscleCare has penned a sponsorship deal with the International Federation of Sports Chiropractic, a group of sports chiropractors from 30 countries that treat Olympic and nationally ranked athletes.

The company fields two topical pain-relief products: topical Professional Therapy MuscleCare extra-strength roll-on gel and Professional Therapy MuscleCare ointment. The products contain camphor and menthol, to relax tissue and increase the flow of healthy blood, and nutrients in order to reset the muscle to its normal resting length and promote healing.

The retail price is $19.99 for the roll-on gel and $25.99 for the ointment.

The InterMedia Group of Cos. announced this month that ExtenZe spokesman Jimmy Johnson, Fox NFL Sunday host and newest “Survivor” castaway, will participate in a new round of commercials that will relate stories of what some of his colleagues in sports and the broadcast booth have said to him since he joined up with ExtenZe.

“Jimmy Johnson’s affable approach to endorsing this sensitive personal product has really given the ExtenZe campaign tremendous momentum in all media and communication channels, taking on a life of its own,” stated Robert Yallen, CEO of the InterMedia Group of Cos. “Product awareness and sales have soared, and the credibility he brings to the table is undeniable. In this next series of ads, we’re simply capitalizing on the buzz and showing that ExtenZe is all about the fun.”

ExtenZe was the leading direct TV commercial on television in 2009, according to Infomercial Monitoring Service rankings, InterMedia Group noted. The product also scored No. 1 in sales in the mineral supplement category at retailers for the past 104 weeks, according to InfoScan Reviews, InterMedia Group added.

The new ExtenZe spots will air on ESPN, BET, Discovery, AMC, FX and Speed Networks, among others.

Nestle Performance Nutrition began shipping in September a new line of dietary supplements under the brand PowerBar Elite Series High Intensity. Formulated with sustained-release beta alanine for endurance, the line will carry the NSF Certified for Sport certification for sports nutrition products.

Studies suggest beta alanine supplementation can enhance performance in efforts lasting between one minute and 10 minutes, such as cycling over the top of a hill, high-intensity interval training or in sports events falling within this range.

Each PowerBar High Intensity two-tablet serving provides 1.6 g of beta alanine. For optimum results, athletes should take two tablets twice daily for the first four weeks and two tablets once per day thereafter. With this regimen, athletes typically see results in four to eight weeks.

PowerBar High Intensity retails for a suggested price of $39.99 per 56-serving bottle.

Industry News

A consistent percentage of U.S. adults label themselves as supplement users, with 66% classifying themselves as such, according to a new survey conducted by Ipsos-Public Affairs for the Council for Responsible Nutrition. The online survey also found that nearly three-quarters of supplement users (74%) classified themselves as “regular” users, as opposed to occasional users (21%) or seasonal users (5%).

A new study released last month by the American Lung Association found that helping smokers quit not only saves lives but also offers favorable economic benefits. The study found that while the statewide average retail pack of cigarettes in California, for example, is $5.17, the true cost of a pack of cigarettes when considering healthcare impacts and workplace productivity losses is $27.07 per pack, a third higher than the $18.05 national average. For every dollar spent on helping smokers quit, states will see, on average, a return of $1.26, the study determined.

New research by Duke University found that obese workers cost U.S. employers $73.1 billion a year. The researchers, led by Eric Finkelstein, deputy director for health services and systems research at Duke-National University of Singapore, used survey data from the “2006 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey” and the “2008 U.S. National Health and Wellness Survey” to determine the extent to which obesity-related health problems affected absenteeism, work productivity and medical costs. Among those with a body mass index higher than 40—which is roughly 100 lbs overweight—these costs worked out to $16,900 per capita for women and $15,500 for men in this weight class.

The study was published Oct. 8 in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Condom use is higher among black and Hispanic Americans than among white Americans and those from other racial groups, according to findings from a study of sexuality and sexual health behaviors conducted by Indiana University sexual health researchers—the largest ever fielded—and published in a special issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

The study helped both the public and professionals to understand how condom-use patterns vary across these different stages in people’s relationships and across ages, noted Debby Herbenick, associate director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion, which conducted the study. “Findings show that condoms are used twice as often with casual sexual partners as with relationship partners, a trend that is consistent for both men and women across age groups that span 50 years,” Herbenick said.

One new feature to the study was the inclusion of teens. “Many surveys of adolescent sexual behavior create an impression that adolescents are becoming sexually active at younger ages, and that most teens are sexually active,” noted Dennis Fortenberry, professor of pediatrics in the IU School of Medicine, who led the adolescent aspects of the study. “[But] many contemporary adolescents are being responsible by abstaining or using condoms when having sex.”

Another key finding: Adults older than 40 years have the lowest rates of condom use.


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Assured sees high rise in same-store sales

BY Alaric DeArment

FRISCO, Texas September same-store sales at Assured Pharmacy increased by 13.5% compared with last year, the specialty pharmacy provider said Thursday.

Assured, which specializes in treating chronic pain, said sales were $1.4 million, or around $66,253 per business day, compared with $1.23 million a year ago.

“We are pleased with our September sales results and our continued patient growth, with 3,064 patients serviced in the month of September,” CEO Robert DelVecchio said. “As these sales figures reflect, we remain on track for increased sales and market share growth, improved earnings at the store level and stronger cash flow.”


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Retailers, drug makers can help cut diabetes rate

BY Alaric DeArment

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT The dramatic rise in the prevalence of diabetes over the next several decades is likely to place huge strains on the U.S. healthcare system, costing the country hundreds of billions of dollars every year. It also means the diabetes market will continue to be a hot bed for innovation for decades to come.

(THE NEWS: Diabetes prevalence among Americans may increase to 33%, CDC study finds. For the full story, click here)

Barring a cure for the disease or a dramatic reversal of current trends, the plague of Type 2 diabetes is likely to get worse and account for numerous hospitalizations, as it already does. According to the government Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, nearly 1-in-5 U.S. hospitalizations in 2008 were related to diabetes, with the greatest concentration in the South.

No individual, company or even government agency can reverse the trend on its own, but many — including retailers — can help. And that will continue to feed a frenzy of activity in this space.

Agrowing number of supermarkets across the country have used various means to promote healthy eating, ranging from easy-to-read nutritional rating systems to in-store nutrition experts and store tours. Meanwhile, pharmacists and retail clinicians, as healthcare providers, can use their expertise to spread awareness as well. Rite Aid stores will offer free Diabetes Solutions Days events Nov. 2 through 4.

Health insurer Anthem Blue Cross has won recognition for a pilot diabetes program, “Bridging Cultural Health Care Gaps: Diabetes,” which seeks to find culturally appropriate ways to communicate about diabetes to African-American and Hispanic members. Anthem conducted the pilot among 4,000 of its members in California and Georgia, and plans to expand the program to other states. 

More of these localized types of efforts — borne out of the spirit of the Ashville Project — continue to arise.

And of course, manufacturers continue to lead the innovation, and many are going beyond just products. Novo Nordisk recently released the BlueSheet, a report that promotes awareness and education in the prevention and treatment of diabetes.


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