HEALTH

Rite Aid greets allergy season with free screenings, offers for Wellness+ members

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMP HILL, Pa. — Rite Aid is offering free allergy screenings, information and a range of products as the allergy season approaches, the retail pharmacy chain said Tuesday.

The chain said it would offer free allergy pamphlets at all its stores, as well as screenings at select locations in Atlanta, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Pa., Buffalo, N.Y., and Nashville, Tenn. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology has forecasted that mild winter temperatures, high precipitation and higher pollen production could make this spring one of the worst allergy seasons on record. The company also has launched a web page that includes details on Rite Aid Allergy Awards, which allow members of the chain’s Wellness+ loyalty card program to earn a $20 gift certificate for every $75 spent on Zyrtec and Benadryl products.

"The best way to keep allergies from spoiling the spring is to begin treating seasonal symptoms about two weeks prior to their onset," Rite Aid EVP pharmacy Robert Thompson said. "That’s why now is the perfect time to let customers know about Rite Aid’s full array of allergy support, including personalized pharmacist counseling, allergy management tips in stores and online plus free clinical screenings to detect personal allergy triggers."

The company also said it would sponsor community health events during the week of April 14 at its nearly 800 Wellness stores, in which pharmacists would address topics like allergies, osteoporosis, men’s health and infertility.

 

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AAFA: Allergy sufferers in for long, severe season

BY Michael Johnsen

LANDOVER, Md. — Extreme weather patterns may contribute to a severe and long allergy season this spring, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. The AAFA projects an increased potential for severe and prolonged allergy symptoms as spring arrives early, and as many regions of the country recover from severe storms and flooding.

"Severe weather patterns can bring higher temperatures, higher pollen levels and increased exposure to outdoor mold, resulting in spring allergies that can peak stronger and last longer," stated Bill Berger of the Allergy and Asthma Associates of Southern California. "Too often, people with seasonal allergies suffer silently while their symptoms worsen year after year."

Residents across the United States can expect more severe allergy conditions this year as an unusually wet winter and early warm temperatures lead to earlier tree pollination and higher levels of pollen and outdoor mold. Northern cities predicted to face a more challenging spring allergy season compared to one year ago include: Buffalo, N.Y., Springfield, Mass., Richmond, Va., Detroit and Toledo, Ohio. 

"The severe allergy conditions expected in many cities across the country means more challenges for patients, and a need for powerful and effective treatment options for them to help manage their condition," noted Mike Tringale, VP external affairs at AAFA.

AAFA’s ranking of the "2013 Spring Allergy Capitals" found that nasal allergies are a problem nationwide, but especially in southern states. Overall, 15 of the top 25 cities on this year’s ranking are in the South. These findings are consistent with research showing that spring now arrives 10 to 14 days earlier than it did just 20 years ago, bringing with it increased pollen counts.   

Recent hurricanes, severe storms and tornadoes also can affect the severity of spring allergies. The increased presence of mold in areas damaged by floods can trigger allergic reactions. Major urban areas and locations with significant construction also may see an increased risk for severe allergies, because pollen from weeds proliferates in places with development projects. Finally, ground-level ozone pollution can affect allergy symptoms.

For 2013, Jackson, Miss., claimed the top spot on AAFA’s Spring Allergy Capitals ranking, followed by Knoxville, Tenn. and Chattanooga, Tenn. Of note, three major cities, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Dallas each climbed slightly higher in the top 25 compared with last year. 

An interactive map of 100 cities, resources about diagnosis, prevention and treatment options, resources for physicians and more information on the study methodology are available at AllergyCapitals.com.

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UrgentRx raises another round of capital to expedite national retail distribution

BY Michael Johnsen

DENVER — UrgentRx on Tuesday announced that the company has closed an additional $2.5 million in Series B funding, led by current investors as well as attracting new capital. The additional funding brings the company’s total funding to date to more than $7 million.

“We’ve had tremendous success working closely with Duane Reade and other retailers to create game-changing merchandising systems that take advantage of unused space, turn heads and entice consumers to reach out and grab our products,” stated Jordan Eisenberg, president UrgentRx. “This additional funding will allow UrgentRx to accelerate efforts to reach consumers and support our retail partners as we expand into more and more markets.”

UrgentRx are flavored OTCs in a powder format that quickly dissolves on the tongue. "Additionally, [the packaging is] actually the size of a credit card, which we’ve patented, so you can stick it in your wallet and carry it with you at all times," Eisenberg recently told DSN in an exclusive podcast interview

After raising $3 million in mid 2012, the company reopened the round due to accelerated momentum at retail. The additional funds will be primarily used to build inventory, produce innovative point-of-sale merchandising, and fund marketing for the national launch.

UrgentRx has expanded its retail presence into more than 2,500 stores nationwide, including Walgreens-owned Duane Reade, as well as several national retail chains. The company anticipates retail expansion to more than 20,000 to 25,000 locations by the end of the year. 

The round was led by current investors JUMP Investors and Boulevard Capital Partners. New investors in the round include billionaires Sam Zell (Chicago financier and real estate developer), David Bonderman (founder of private equity giant Texas Pacific Group) and Herb Simon (real estate magnate and founder of Simon Properties), along with two-time Academy Award-winning actress Hilary Swank.


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