Time to ‘smah-ten up’
“Smah-ten up, Ee-dah.” Loosely translated from deep “Mainer-ese,” that means, “smarten up, Eder.”
It’s a voice from my childhood, an old coach and counselor from summer camp, Tobias Woodworth. I called him Toby. He called me “Ee-dah.”
Stuck with me and all my other quasi-incorrigible New York City friends, Toby found himself saying, “smah-ten up!” an awful lot. It could mean anything from “you’ve got two strikes — protect the plate” to “put down that rock.”
I can still hear Toby’s voice whenever something just doesn’t seem right to me — like when I think about the current crosscurrents in health reform. I just want to tell this entire country to “smah-ten up” sometimes.
Take this week for example. As I write this column, here are some of the headlines that have appeared on DrugStoreNews.com:
Employees’ job worries trump health concerns. According to a recent survey of 9,000 employees from large and mid-sized companies, only 59% said that managing their health is a top priority, versus 69% in 2008. Two-thirds of employees said they would be willing to participate in employer- sponsored lifestyle management programs if employers reduced premium costs for employees;
IRS reclassifies breast-feeding as medical expenditure. New mothers now can write off or use flexible spending account dollars to pay for breast pumps and breast-feeding products. Pediatricians recommend that new mothers breast-feed for at least the first full year of life for the health of the child. About half of women need to return to work after six months; and
FSA restrictions first piece of ObamaCare to be challenged. Congress in February introduced the Patients’ Freedom to Choose Act, which would restore FSA eligibility for OTC purchases.
If Congress spends the next couple of years fine-tuning health reform, we could significantly reduce the total cost by perhaps as much as one-third or more of its current price tag, create a whole lot of jobs that our economy clearly needs, improve the health of tens of millions of Americans, trim away at the national deficit and improve the profitability of just about every business in America.
How? Let’s look at the incentives that drive this whole broken healthcare system we have, from what we pay providers — and what we pay them for — to how patients access and use health care. Just “smah-ten up,” as Toby Woodworth would say.
Tylenol Precise heats up external analgesics sales
McNeil Consumer Healthcare recently parlayed its Tylenol brand franchise into external analgesics to quite a bit of success. For the four weeks ended Dec. 26, 2010, Precise “from the makers of Tylenol” became the No. 3 best-selling heat patch, with $1.9 million in sales across food, drug and mass (excluding Walmart), according to SymphonyIRI Group. And its pain-relieving cream similarly broke in among the top-selling brands — No. 9 with $1.3 million in sales for the four-week period.
Labeled Tylenol Precise, McNeil introduced three SKUs all told: two patches (one for arms, neck and legs; the other for back and body) and a cream. The air-activated heat therapy will go up against Pfizer Consumer’s ThermaCare, which is experiencing a slight resurgence in sales under its relatively new stewardship. Wyeth Consumer, now part of Pfizer, had purchased the rights to ThermaCare from Procter & Gamble two years ago.
Both the Tylenol Precise cream and patches retail for around $7.99.
Scar therapy product lessens C-section scars
GUILFORD, Conn. — Mitchell-Vance Labs this past fall launched a new scar product to add to its ScarAway lineup appealing to a whole other segment of women in search of scar therapy: ScarAway for C-sections.
The therapy will have direct appeal to 1-in-4 new mothers, which is the number of women who give birth by Cesarean section in the United States. In 2008, 1-in-3 moms delivered their babies by way of a C-section, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The prevalence of the procedure has been on the rise since 1996, when 21% of all births were delivered via a C-section procedure.
The number of women either opting into or medically needing a C-section is expected to continue on its upward trajectory as more women experience childbirth later in life. In 1996, 32% of all women giving birth were between the ages of 40 and 54 years. In 2007, almost half (48%) of mothers giving birth fell into that age bracket.
The ScarAway product features an extended-length, medical-grade silicon scar sheet ideal for placement over that C-section cut, which is made just below the abdomen and right above the bikini line.