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Suppliers abuzz at Annual

BY Michael Johnsen

PALM BEACH, Fla. —The atmosphere this year at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ Annual Meeting was sunny, even as the Monday morning of the event gave way to a seasonal Florida downpour that forced everyone indoors. That morning, the lobby and restaurants of The Breakers seemed to be elbow-room-only as suppliers and retailers took the weather in stride and continued hammering out strategic initiatives. Because recession or boom, healthcare reform or no healthcare reform, the business of pharmacy retailing remains the same: How can you drive more patients/customers through the doors today as compared with yesterday?

And as far as incremental dollar-driving initiatives were concerned, there were plenty being tossed about this year, whether you were sitting at one of the cabanas or inside for impromptu table-top meetings.

For example, Sally Hansen, owned by Coty, is looking to make salon-quality manicures even easier at home with the launch of its Complete Salon Manicure collection. As Mary van Praag, SVP sales for Coty Beauty, recently told Drug Store News, that kind of innovation, buttressed by strong promotional support, has helped Sally Hansen realize all-time highs in share of market, and has helped make the Sally Hansen Complete Salon offering the No. 1 beauty care new product year-to-date through February.

GlaxoSmithKline publicly announced on the Tuesday, April 27, of NACDS Annual the launch of its new Nicorette Mini Lozenge, a smaller smoking-cessation lozenge that dissolves three times faster than the stop-smoking lozenges currently on the market. And that new mini-lozenge is expected to drive incremental growth to the category because the smaller lozenge size actually satisfies different usage scenarios, Roger Scarlett-Smith, president of GSK Consumer Healthcare, shared with retail partners at the event. The new Mini Lozenge also will be promoted in part through Drew Pinsky, the popular addiction expert featured on VH1’s “Celebrity Rehab.”

Procter & Gamble showcased its Pantene makeover at its annual P&G Studio & Male Zone, where NACDS Annual attendees were able to slip in at some point during the conference for the latest in beauty and grooming services. At the shelf, however, P&G is shaking up its entire Pantene line with new packaging and a new merchandising philosophy—merchandising all relative products together by four defined hair styles in an attempt to make the set less cluttered and easier to shop. And according to one industry executive in the services arena, P&G has done just that and should really connect with their buyers on this initiative.

Other buzz-worthy items of note included Dr Pepper Snapple Group’s new West Coast production facility. With a capacity to produce 40 million cases each year, which will augment the company’s service to the Southwest. Pacific World inked a licensing deal with Crayola for a new Crayola by Fing’rs collection that is now available at Walmart, a line that ought to appeal to tweens and potentially could serve as a gateway into the category. And Lornamead is hoping to fold in an incremental Lice Shield conditioner-shampoo combo onto the shelves for parents treating lice. The new lice care products are formulated to be preventative.

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Retail clinics: Improved care at a lower cost

BY Michael Johnsen

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT Retail clinics. Save. Money. Without regard to who’s footing the bill exactly — healthcare payer or Jane Patient — retail clinics not only represent a significant cost savings across the board, but by siphoning nonemergency-yet-still-urgent cases out of the emergency rooms and doctors’ offices, retail clinics also can contribute to improved care across the healthcare continuum.

(THE NEWS: Study: Retail clinics save nonemergency patients money. For the full story, click here)

All told there were 119.2 million total ER visits in 2006, up 8.2% as compared with 2004, according to ACEP. Extrapolate that figure with WellPoint’s finding that 19.4% of those visits may be for nonemergencies across the entire nation, and the fuzzy math equates to an approximate 23.1 million non-emergency patients presenting across some 3,833 ERs. For whoever is paying for the cost of care, that’s an expenditure totaling $10.2 billion if every case were to present at an ER; as compared to $1.2 billion if every case were to present at a retail clinic. That’s the cost savings piece.

But cost savings aren’t the only benefit retail clinics afford the overall healthcare system —  there’s a general improvement in care. According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, average waiting times for patients triaged with non-emergency ailments at emergency departments range between one and two hours, but only when the ER isn’t crowded. That’s like saying that bee stings don’t hurt, you know, except when they do.

Let’s face it, in a nation of 309 million and counting, there are simply not enough points of care, be it for an emergency or nonemergency situation. Taking nonemergency visits out of emergency rooms would likely improve the efficiency of care for more critical patients, as well as the experience of care for noncritical patients. That’s the improved care piece.

Improved care at a lower cost, that’s what retail clinics bring to the table.

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Tide brings Loads of Hope to Dollar General

BY Allison Cerra

NASHVILLE Tide brought its mobile laundromat to a local Dollar General to benefit victims of the recent floods.

Tide’s Loads of Hope program visited a Nashville Dollar General May 12 to provide customers in the area with clean laundry. One truck and a fleet of vans house more than 32 energy-efficient washers and dryers that are capable of cleaning over 300 loads of laundry every day. Tide washs, dries and folds the clothes for these families for free.

The Loads of Hope program also benefited victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, in addition to other natural disasters.

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