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Senate kills drug-importation amendment

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — The Senate voted 55-45 Thursday to scrap an appropriations bill amendment that would have allowed personal importation of prescription drugs.

The amendment had been proposed for the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill. The Senate’s vote drew applause from an organization representing retail pharmacy chains.

"Given that consumer safety cannot be ensured under a prescription drug reimportation system and that such a system would reduce patients’ access to professional services of their local, licensed pharmacists, the Senate made the right decision today," National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and CEO Steve Anderson said. "NACDS appreciates the genuine interest in reducing healthcare expenses that is a motivating factor behind this amendment, and NACDS remains committed to working with all branches and all levels of government, as well as private payers, to improve patient health and reduce costs."

Along with the NACDS, many health experts fear that allowing patients to purchase and import drugs from abroad would open the country’s drug supply to counterfeit drugs and fraud.


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GfK: Holiday shoppers to maintain, restrict spending; seek best prices

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — Economic anxiety continues to plague U.S. consumers, with 84% planning to spend the same or less this holiday season, according to a new report released by GfK Custom Research North America on Thursday.

According to GfK’s 2011 holiday shopping survey, which polled 1,007 Americans ages 18 years and older, 40% of American households will spend less this year, while 44% will spend the same amount they did in 2010. GfK added that 11% plan to spend more.

When it comes to what will drive spending, consumers are most concerned with finding the best price (96%), making it easy for them to find and purchase a desired item (90%), as well as the offer of free shipping from online retailers (90%).

"The competition between online and brick-and-mortar retailers will continue to intensify as the challenge for all retailers is compounded by shoppers who feel more in control of the purchasing process than ever before (70%) and who feel that retailers and advertisers have less influence over them (50%)," GfK Consumer SVP Lew Paine said. "This continues to reduce consumer loyalty to retailers. In fact, according to our future buy 2011 consumer study, more than half agree that they are less loyal to any one retailer because they need to shop around more to find the best value."

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Hamacher identifies six front-end growth drivers for independents

BY Michael Johnsen

WAUKESHA, Wis. — Hamacher Resource Group identified six categories — first aid, eye/ear care, sun care, smoking cessation, durable medical equipment (including incontinence products) and foot care — that are selling better in independent pharmacies over chain pharmacies as part of a white paper released Thursday.

Of these, sales of first aid products, eye/ear care solutions and smoking deterrents more than doubled in independent pharmacies versus chain pharmacies. Hamacher credited first aid growth to manufacturers focusing on selling through to customers of independent pharmacies. Growth in eye care and ear care products can be attributed to an aging baby boomer. And in eye care, a side effect of several prescription remedies is dry eye, a condition for which consumers typically don’t consult their physician. And the increase in smoking cessation sales reflects an increased interest in self-care, the white paper noted.

The white paper outlines strategies independent pharmacists can explore to better capitalize on these opportunities. The study was completed with the support of the Healthcare Distribution Management Association and the Consumer Healthcare Products Association.

The white paper, titled  “Supply Chain Collaboration:  Maximizing Health, Beauty, and Wellness Product Sales in Independent Pharmacy,” can be downloaded by clicking here


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