Wave of supplier initiatives target challenged diabetes sales

Wave of supplier initiatives target challenged diabetes sales – Chain Pharmacy

Michael Johnsen

With some 3-in-50 Americans dealing with diabetes today, increasing numbers of retailers are building outreach programs to pull those diabetic customers into their stores. Accordingly, several suppliers have embarked on initiatives that go beyond simple product introductions.

In one instance, the new initiative is designed to help pharmacy operators more effectively interact with their diabetic customers. Another program has been developed that helps manage the profitability of a typical diabetes set. And a third supplier undertaking has reached out to a diabetes population that carries a little extra weight.

For instance, in an effort to help the pharmacist at the counter, or in the consultation area, Roche has introduced its Accu-Chek SmartPrinter pilot program in several pharmacies on the West Coast. The printer produces a chart that graphs a customer s blood glucose readings on the spot (provided the customer is testing with an Accu-Chek meter, of course). The customer either can take that color-coded chart to his or her treating physician or can discuss the chart results on the spot with the pharmacy’s diabetes educator.

“We actually use it quite frequently with health care professionals–with physicians and nurses in a doctor’s office setting,” Nancy Lonsinger, vice president of marketing at Roche, told Drug Store News. Roche has had the printer in physician’s offices for a little more than a year now.

The printers have been placed predominantly in Southern California locations in the past few months as the supplier measures the program’s functionality on the retail arena. “We’ve had it in our medical professional offices for more than a year,” Lonsinger reported.

Home Diagnostics, which features a line of co-branded blood glucose meters, has been offering its retailer partners a program to help crunch the diabetes category to profitability. The software, Retail SmartView Category Analysis version 1.0, factors in a number of variables unique to the sale of blood glucose meters and strips, such as a breakdown of cash-paying customers versus managed care or the profitability behind a strip sale to a Medicare or Medicaid patient. “It will spit out an algorithm that will basically tell you what your return on investment is by manufacture, by inventory,” explained Gregg Johnson, vice president of consumer health care at Home Diagnostics.

“At the end of the day, as we all know, retailers have a hard time making money in the diabetes category, Johnson said. “There was one small retail chain that ran the analysis and came to the conclusion that they lost more than $500,000 in the diabetes category last year.”

Johnson reasoned that most retailers maintain an unprofitable meter and strip business in order to capitalize on the larger marketbasket diabetics bring to the table. The SmartView enables retailers to look at their diabetes selection to rationalize the underperforming meters, Johnson said.

Outside of showcasing to retailers the amount of profitability realized through the sale of Home Diagnostics products–higher profit margins have been a selling point for Home Diagnostics since the company started co-branding meters in April 2000–the program provides retailers a tool to measure ROIs of other meters. “That helps [the retailer] take a look at their total category, and when it comes to SKU rationalization, they have the nuts and bolts right in front of them,” Johnson said. “It’s their data” that gets plugged into the equation, Johnson noted, as opposed to supplier-generated data.

Diabetes en Espanol

And LifeScan recently introduced an education and awareness program in the United States targeting Hispanics with diabetes, as diabetes is twice as likely to affect Hispanics as non-Hispanic whites. In a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicted that if the diabetes epidemic continues at its current rate, approximately half of all Hispanic babies born in the United States in 2000 will be diagnosed with this disease sometime in their lives.

In an effort to get the word out, LifeScan has signed six-time Grammy-award-winning musical artist Jose Feliciano as a spokesman. Feliciano was diagnosed with diabetes in 1994.

The program consists of diabetes education and product support literature in Spanish, a 24-hour, toll-free Spanish-language customer service line and the introduction of www.OneTouchEnEspanol.com, a Web site that features 125 pages of company, product and diabetes self-care information.

In addition, LifeScan is featuring Feliciano in a new national advertising campaign.

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COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group