Tanya Irwin, Aug 21, 2007, 1:15 PM
  • Doctors Get Cash To Push Generic DrugsThe Detroit News

    Where they once got gifts from the pharma giants to increase sales of new drugs, doctors are now being wooed by health insurance companies, which are offering cash incentives when they switch patients to cheaper generics. Insurers' motivation for the incentives is simple: cut costs. Generic drugs are much cheaper than brand-name medications.

    In the face of stiff generic competition, pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer have ratcheted up ads for blockbuster drugs. Pfizer enlisted the face of artificial heart inventor Dr. Robert Jarvik to pitch Lipitor. A recent Blue Care Network program paid 2,400 Michigan doctors $2 million for switching patients to generic cholesterol-lowering drugs from brand-name drugs like Lipitor and Crestor. The insurer said it saved nearly $5 million. And the HMO expects members who switched will save a total of $1 million from lower co-payments this year.

    Most of his patients never knew about the incentive from the insurer, but doctors say that didn't change the benefit to them, since in most cases, generics work the same as the branded drug and are cheaper. In some cases, patients are coming in asking for a conversation about generics after the HMO sent patients a letter informing them brand-name co-payments would increase. Read the whole story...

  • Court Delays Whole Foods/Wild Oats DealUSA Today

    Whole Foods Market and Wild Oats Markets have until Wednesday afternoon to respond to Federal Trade Commission arguments that the buyout should not go forward due to antitrust issues.

    The company had planned to move ahead with the $565 million deal, announced six months ago, as early as noon Monday if the U.S. Appeals Court had not issued a stay. Whole Foods said the FTC looked at the deal the wrong way, focusing on natural and organic grocers rather than taking a broader view of the overall industry. When Whole Foods announced its plan to buy Wild Oats for $18.50 per share on Feb. 21, it said it faced increased pressure from larger players.

    Whole Foods, which has about 200 stores, rang up less than $5.61 billion in sales in its fiscal year ended in September 2006, while Wild Oats has annual sales of about $1.2 billion. By comparison, Kroger Co, the largest mainstream, U.S. grocery chain, posted $66.1 billion in sales for its fiscal year ended in February and has more than 2,460 grocery stores. Read the whole story...

  • Marketers Ignore Consumer Fear Of Chinese Imports Advertising Age

    Despite scandals that have shaken consumer confidence in products imported from China, marketers outside of those affected segments aren't taking any extra measures to offer reassurance regarding safety.

    In the wake of last week's latest China-quality scandal, in which Mattel issued its second lead-paint-based toy recall, marketers should be doing more to address the concerns, crisis-communications experts say, adding that it's shortsighted for marketers to assume consumers will give Chinese imports the benefit of the doubt.

    Yet marketers in industries that source ingredients from China were keeping a low profile on the issue. Spokesmen for major food suppliers ConAgra and Kellogg said they had no plans to take additional steps to promote their quality-control measures. And Miller Brewing Co., which is planing a U.S. rollout of China's top-selling beer, Snow, for the fourth quarter, says it won't be doing anything differently nor are they worried the issue will hurt sales. Read the whole story...

  • AGs Question Marketing of Alcoholic Energy DrinksThe Columbus Dispatch

    Attorney Generals from 30 states are urging the federal government to crack down on manufacturers that market caffeine-laced alcoholic beverages to underage consumers. The top state legal officers called on the Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to better regulate the hybrid drinks. In some cases, manufacturers are making claims that they are less intoxicating than beer, which is misleading, they say.

    The beverages -- with names such as Bud Extra, Sparks, Tilt and Rockstar 21 -- have as much or more alcohol than beer and malt beverages. They also contain stimulants, such as caffeine, guarana and taurine. Some are sold in containers that resemble popular nonalcoholic energy drinks, such as Red Bull and Rockstar.

    Art Resnick, spokesman for the Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, said the agency was reviewing the request and that the agency will punish manufacturers that claim stimulants make alcoholic beverages less dangerous. Read the whole story...

  • Coach Suffers, Competitors Bag CustomersBloomberg

    Coach Inc.'s shares, like its handbags, are losing their cachet. Some investors believe the outsized gains for Coach stock, which has surged 22 times since first being sold to the public in 2000, are over.

    While the maker of Soho and Ergo purses has dominated the market for $200 to $400 handbags for the past decade, Coach is winning fewer customers amid a market slowdown. Competitors including Liz Claiborne Inc. and Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. are spending more to market purses, including Juicy Couture velour hobo bags and alligator satchels.

    Coach has widened its price range by selling products from $28 leather charms to dangle on bags to $798 Legacy bags. Read the whole story...