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Philips Respironics tests mass market waters

Philips Respironics tests mass market waters

MURRYSVILLE, Pa. - Philips Respironics and Kroger are pleased with the initial results of a 30-day pilot project that involved displaying and selling replacement supplies for CPAP devices in some of the grocery store chain's retail pharmacies.

“What we're most pleased about is the promotion of sleep apnea that has occurred through the pilot project,” said John Frank, senior vice president, general manager, sleep and respiratory care, Philips Home Healthcare Solutions. “Many patients saw the display, inquired about a problem and were referred to a sleep lab for a test. That's the real benefit.”

As part of the project, which ended earlier this month, Cincinnati-based Kroger furnished Philips Respironics masks, with prescriptions, and accessories like tubing through the retail pharmacies of seven stores in Ohio. Kroger has a license to provide DME.

Kroger approached Philips Respironics with the idea for the project as a way to raise awareness about sleep apnea and to help serve the growing number of people with the condition. It's already a provider of the manufacturer's nebulizers and compressors.

“We thought this would be the next logical step,” said Doug Cornelius, pharmacy sales manager for the Columbus division. “Part of our mission is to act as a community safety net and capture people who may be symptomatic and set them in the right direction. It's a way to close the gaps on those people.”

Frank acknowledges that one of the goals of the project was to determine whether or not a retail pharmacy is the “right avenue” for patient care for those with sleep apnea.

“Can they provide a high standard of care the same way a homecare provider does?” he asked. “That's why we do these pilot projects.”

Frank emphasized that actual CPAP devices were not included in the project, a nod to the still important role of homecare providers.

“These types of patients only do well when they're cared for and coached through their therapy,” he said. “That's not done over-the-counter, or not very well. So for the foreseeable future, the real value in this care is through the service provided by a qualified provider.”

The results of the project could have a far-reaching impact for a few reasons: 1.) A PowerPoint presentation by Philips Respironics from 2008 included a slide detailing its plans to “transform traditional channel to mass market by 2015.” (Company officials downplayed the importance of the slide at the time); and 2.) Kroger has nearly 2,000 retail pharmacies in 31 states.

“We haven't concluded with any meaningful results yet,” Frank said. “We will determine if and when we proceed.”

Next week—Providers react: 'We're not going to help them'


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