HEALTH

Year-end sees increased FSA traffic at drugstore.com

BY Michael Johnsen

BELLEVUE, Wash. Drugstore.com on Monday announced that traffic to its online Flexible Spending Account Store is increasing significantly as the end of the year approaches.

“Internet retail is uniquely suited to service FSA Account holders because our online store can carry a much wider selection of eligible items compared to brick-and-mortar stores that are limited by shelf space,” stated David Lonczak, vice president and chief marketing officer, drugstore.com. “Our customers also appreciate the fact that we do the FSA accounting for them, making reimbursements or FSA debit cards a snap as they shop on our site throughout the year or right now when they need to use their FSA dollars or lose them.”

According to drugstore.com, there are an estimated 24 million pre-tax healthcare Flexible Spending Accounts in the United States. Any money left in FSAs at the end of the plan year can’t be rolled over or refunded. So for many FSA account holders it’s “use it or lose it” time.

To promote end-of-year FSA blowouts, this year drugstore.com created bundled recommendations of FSA-eligible items that range in cost from $50 to $75, including:

  • general first aid supplies
  • athlete/outdoorsman supplies
  • baby care essentials
  • suggestions for “Dr. Mom”
  • and medicine cabinet basics

Drugstore.com’s list of most-bought FSA-eligible items include, in ranked order, Prilosec OTC, Clearblue Easy Fertility Monitor Test Sticks, ibuprofen. 200 mg, Band-Aid Sheer, Sheer Adhesive Bandages and Sight Savers Pre-Moistened Lens Cleaning Tissues.

Drugstore.com makes it easier for consumers looking to empty their FSA accounts before year’s end by putting more than 3,000 FSA-approved items in one location online. Drugstore.com also provides FSA-only receipts through the web store that customers may choose to print out at any time of the year to turn in for reimbursement.

The online retailer has also set up a payment program that debits an FSA debit card for FSA eligible purchases and prompts for a second form of payment if a non-FSA eligible item is added to the virtual shopping basket.

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AHPA issues materials to help identify quality of bilberry extract

BY Michael Johnsen

SILVER SPRING, Md. The American Herbal Products Association earlier this week provided analytical tools and methods to identify adulteration of powdered raw materials labeled as bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) extract.

“AHPA is providing methods to help enable proper evaluations of materials where identity and quality issues are known to exist,” stated Steven Dentali, AHPA’s vice president of scientific and technical affairs. “By providing these analytical methods, we will help companies make better ingredient purchasing decisions.”

The methods, along with color images of the results, are on the AHPA website.

Disseminating these quality assurance methods is part of AHPA’s ongoing initiative to provide practical tools that enable the dietary supplements industry to self-regulate.

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American Greetings to debut Muhammad Ali cards

BY Doug Desjardins

CLEVELAND American Greetings has signed an agreement with Muhammad Ali Enterprises that will allow the company to introduce a line of greeting cards featuring the legendary boxer next month.

The Muhammad Ali Collection is due to arrive in stores in January and will include eight cards with a mix of birthday, thinking-of-you and everyday designs that feature iconic photos of Ali. The cards will debut in time for Black History Month in February.

“It’s truly an honor to work with such a respected and revered person like Muhammad Ali,” said Paul Palmer, director of ethnic card marketing for American Greetings. “It’s a natural fit for Ali to be the focal point of cards that inspire and motivate others to reach their goals, persevere through hardship and celebrate the many accomplishments in life.”

The cards will arrive in stores on Jan. 21 priced at $2.99. A line of cards featuring sound bites from Ali is planned for later this year.

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