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Creating a diabetes ecosystem

Having a destination center for the diabetic patient has become increasingly valuable.

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Creating a home destination center for diabetic patients stocked with products appropriate to their condition —not only including sugar tablets, gels and liquids, but also nutritional supplements, homeopathic products, skin creams and lotions, oral care solutions, pain relief products and hypoglycemic products — has gained in importance thanks to the price pressures associated with competitive bidding in the diabetes space.

(For the full category review, including sales data, click here.)

These front-end products represent margin retention for those pharmacists still serving their diabetes patients on Medicare. “As expected, U.S. sales were impacted by the implementation of the CMS competitive bidding program for Medicare patients,” Brian Yoor, Abbott VP investor relations, told analysts last month during a conference call. “We project fourth-quarter diabetes care sales growth to be down low single-digits on an operational basis, reflecting the impact of CMS competitive bidding in the [United States] partially offset by strong growth internationally.”

Meanwhile, meal replacement bars and ready-to-drink shakes — both popular categories among people with diabetes — are experiencing significant growth. Sales of meal replacement bars were up 13.4% to $1.9 billion across total U.S. multi-outlets for the 52 weeks ended Sept. 8, according to IRI. Similarly, sales of RTD shakes were up 7.8% to $2.6 billion.

Earlier this year, Nipro Diagnostics broadened its diabetes portfolio of store-brand offerings with its acquisition of P.J. Noyes to help bridge the meter and insulin purchase across the backbench to the front-end. “What we’re creating is a diabetes ecosystem,” Scott Verner, Nipro president and CEO, told DSN. It empowers “our retail partners to have what they need, and support[ing] their patients is everything in a solution,” he said. “That’s why we call it an ecosystem, because you have blood-glucose meters and you have all the other products needed to surround that patient.”

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