HEALTH

Rite Aid launches, outlines new wellness+ with Plenti program

BY Michael Johnsen

CAMP HILL, Pa. — Rite Aid has more than plenty to offer the more than 25 million of its most valued customers, now that Rite Aid wellness+ with Plenti, the enhanced version of Rite Aid's loyalty program, is available to consumers.

As part of the Plenti coalition, the first U.S.-based consumer loyalty program, Rite Aid joins other major retailers and service companies, including AT&T, ExxonMobil, Macy's, Nationwide Insurance, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Direct Energy and Hulu to offer consumers numerous ways to earn Plenti points and use them for savings. Through Plenti, Rite Aid on Monday announced it will transition its existing loyalty program to wellness+ with Plenti.   
 
"Joining Plenti is the next step in the continued evolution of our highly successful wellness+ loyalty program," stated Ken Martindale, Rite Aid's president and COO. "Wellness+ with Plenti will provide current and new Rite Aid customers with even more ways to earn and enjoy savings, on top of all the existing wellness+ benefits they currently receive, truly offering more value than any other drug store loyalty program."

"Three-quarters of the United States is within five miles of at least two of these brands," Jed Scala, head of marketing for Plenti, told Drug Store News. The loyalty coalition represents a "revolution" in the loyalty space, Scala added, noting that one-card-one-retailer programs may become obsolete.
 
All told, the Plenti loyalty program will be offered through more than 25,000 retail locations. Rite Aid's wellness+ with Plenti program will be supported by a national television, radio, circular and digital advertising campaign, which launches later this month.

New and existing wellness+ members can now sign up for wellness+ with Plenti at any Rite Aid store nationwide or online at riteaid.com/plenti. Once enrolled, members of wellness+ with Plenti will earn Plenti points on featured items they buy every day at any participating Plenti partner. These points can be used for at least two years for savings at Rite Aid and certain Plenti partners, including Exxon, Macy's and Mobil.

"We believe that joining Plenti is going to be the next great differentiator for our business and consumers, given the premiere brands participating in the program and the multiple ways for customers to earn and save," Martindale said. "We are excited to be part of this first-of-its-kind U.S. loyalty coalition program, and to bring such an innovative and unique program to our customers across the country."

Members will continue to earn wellness+ points for every $1 spent on eligible nonprescription purchases and up to 25 wellness+ points for every eligible prescription, good toward various benefits at Rite Aid, including discounts of up to 20% off storewide, exclusive sale prices and 24/7 access to a pharmacist.

In addition, they'll also be able to earn a new additional set of points, Plenti points, whenever they make qualifying purchases at Rite Aid and all other Plenti partners.

Through wellness+ with Plenti, +UP rewards are now Plenti points. Plenti points offer even more value because they can be used for savings at Rite Aid, as well as certain other Plenti partners including Exxon, Macy's and Mobil, and can be used for at least two years.

One Plenti point earned at Rite Aid is worth at least one cent in savings, so 1,000 Plenti points are worth at least $10 in savings. Plenti points can be earned at Rite Aid in-store and online, through such rotating product offers as 400 points when you buy two bottles of vitamins or 800 points on oral care products.

Plenti is run by US Loyalty, a division of American Express. In 2011, American Express acquired Loyalty Partner. The company operates three subsidiaries including Payback, which manages leading coalition loyalty programs in Germany, Italy, Poland, India and Mexico.

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FDA reviewing safety, efficacy of OTC antiseptics

BY Michael Johnsen

SILVER SPRING, Md. – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday proposed to review the safety and effectiveness of certain active ingredients used in OTC antiseptics. However, the agency is not advocating any change in wound care treatment at this time.  
 
“Health care antiseptics are an important component of infection control strategies in hospitals, clinics and other health care settings, and remain a standard of care to prevent illness and the spread of infection,” said Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “The FDA recommends that health care personnel continue to use these products consistent with infection control guidelines while additional data are gathered.” 
 
The review is routine, the agency noted. "Since the FDA began review of health care antiseptics in the 1970s, many things have changed, including the frequency of use of some of these products, hospital infection control practices, new technology that can detect low levels of antiseptics in the body, the FDA’s safety standards and the scientific knowledge about the impact of widespread antiseptic use," the agency stated. 
 
Emerging science also suggests that for at least some health care antiseptic active ingredients, systemic exposure is higher than previously thought, and existing data raise potential concerns about the effects of repeated daily human exposure to some antiseptic active ingredients. The FDA is particularly interested in gathering additional data on the long-term safety of daily, repeated exposure to these ingredients in the health care setting and on the use of these products by certain populations, including pregnant and breastfeeding health care workers, for which topical absorption of the active ingredients may be important.
 
“Today health care professionals use antiseptic products much more frequently than they used to, in some cases up to 100 times a day,” said Theresa Michele, director of CDER’s Division of Nonprescription Drug Products. “Today’s proposal seeks to ensure the FDA’s evaluations and determinations for all health care antiseptic active ingredients are consistent, up-to-date and appropriately reflect current scientific knowledge and patterns of use by health care professionals.”
 
Health care antiseptics include hand washes and rubs, surgical hand scrubs and rubs (with or without water), and patient preoperative skin preparations, including pre-injection preparations. The most common active ingredients in health care antiseptics marketed under the OTC monograph include alcohol and iodines. These products are different from consumer antiseptics, such as antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizer rubs, which are not part of this proposed rule.
 
The proposed rule does not require any health care antiseptic products to be removed from the market at this time. Instead, it requires manufacturers who want to continue marketing health care antiseptic products under the monograph to provide the FDA with additional data on the active ingredients’ safety and effectiveness, including data to evaluate absorption, potential hormonal effects and development of bacterial resistance. Once the proposed rule is finalized, ingredients for which adequate safety and effectiveness data have been provided would continue to be available.
 
Today’s action is part of the FDA’s larger, ongoing review of monograph antiseptic active ingredients, FDA noted, and does not affect health care antiseptics approved under the New Drug Application process, consumer antiseptic products or consumer hand sanitizers.
 

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NBTY, Vitamin Angels deliver nutrition to Nepal victims

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — One of the leading American vitamin manufacturers NBTY and Vitamin Angels, a nutrtional supplement charity organization, separately shipped funds and product to survivors of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Nepal last week. 
 
Vitamin Angels partners Global Nutrition Empowerment and Project for a Village expressed the need for additional micronutrient supplement grants to expand their reach to affected communities, Vitamin Angels announced. While not a disaster relief agency, Vitamin Angels is responding to the emergency by expediting and increasing the number of vitamins being sent to the country. 
 
“The importance of proper nutrition in the aftermath of disasters is vital to maintaining good health when those already at risk of undernutrition are faced with even greater challenges in obtaining food and clean water, as well as increased exposure to illness,” said Howard Schiffer, president Vitamin Angels. Schiffer had founded Vitamin Angels in the wake of the 1994 Northridge earthquake in California.
 
And NBTY has made a more-than $500,000 in-kind donation, shipping both Nature's Bounty multivitamins and calcium supplements along with Balance Bar meal replacement solutions to Nepal survivors through Feed the Children. In addition, NBTY has been helping to raise funds for Feed the Children. 
 
“As a global leader in the wellness industry, we at NBTY recognize our compelling corporate responsibility to do whatever we can to help alleviate some of the suffering being experienced by the people impacted by this horrific event,” said Andrea Staub, VP communications and corporate social responsibility at NBTY. “We wish the people of Nepal solace and strength as they begin the enormous task of rebuilding their lives and their country.”
 
“Feed the Children, on behalf of our local disaster response partners around the world, is grateful for the generous support of long-time donor NBTY,” said Matt Panos, Feed the Children chief development officer. “Their commitment to donate both gifts-in-kind and cash will provide much-needed relief and aid in the nutritional health and well-being of those impacted by disasters. This type of contribution – cash along with health, wellness and nutritional products – are crucial forms of assistance to communities impacted by natural disasters. We’re extremely thankful that NBTY is answering the call through this significant donation, and Feed the Children will work with our partners to put these valuable resources to use.”
 
Vitamin Angels has been working with various non-profit partners in Nepal since 2008 to distribute needed nutrients to populations that are not being reached by government health programs. 

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