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Archive for April, 2007

PRimage wins PHARMA Awards account

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

Specialist healthcare communications agency, PRimage, has been appointed to handle the launch PR and ongoing communications and media strategy for The PHARMA Awards – a major new event in the calendar for pharmacy professionals, which aims to celebrate outstanding examples of pharmacy practice. Hosted at the 5 Star Hilton Metropole NEC in Birmingham, the PHARMA Awards dinner on the 14th October 2007 will be presented by a line up of high profile people including leading figures from pharmacy and celebrities. Sponsored by Unichem, The PHARMA Awards will be officially launched in London next month, when the nomination process kicks-off – and will be the only awards scheme to encompass and recognise all aspects of the UK pharmaceutical profession within one event.

Nick Orton, Managing Director of Pioneer Shows, organisers of the PHARMA Awards programme and Gala Dinner, commented: “We put the PR contract for the PHARMAs out to tender earlier this year and were looking for a seasoned healthcare PR professional to work with us on this exciting new project, which will be the highlight of our Pharmacy Show in October. With her wealth of experience and track-record in pharmacy PR, Judy Viitanen is the ideal PR partner, and we are looking forward to working with Judy and the PRimage team over the coming six months.”

PRimage comment:

PRimage Director, Judy Viitanen said: “Pharmacists have a provenance of putting patients first – so what better way to showcase their achievements than with these new awards, which we hope will have the same prestige and kudos in the pharmacy world and health service as the Oscars have in the film industry. PRimage will be developing a comprehensive publicity support package for the PHARMA’s – and I’m looking forward to raising the profile of the PHARMA Award finalists and winners, ensuring they get the recognition they deserve.”

Pharmacy Campaign against POM to P ephedrine and pseudoephedrine meds

Saturday, April 21st, 2007

Pharmacy trade press magazine, Chemist and Druggist has launched a campaign to defend pharmacy against plans to change medicines containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine from pharmacy to prescription-only status. Under the banner of Stop the Switch, C+D will push for the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority to reconsider its radical suggestion to switch the medicines from P to POM. At the same time, the campaign will highlight the important role that pharmacy can play in controlling the supply of such medicines, which can be used to manufacture the highly addictive drug methylamphetamine (crystal meth).

PRimage comment

PRimage is behind the Stop The Switch campaign 100%!¬

NHS – Public role being undermined say MPs

Saturday, April 21st, 2007

The Commons Health Committee says that proper public consultation on the National Health Service will be undermined by “vague and woolly” legislation passing through parliament. The MPs criticised government proposals to limit public consultation on healthcare changes to “significant” proposals and decisions. The proposed changes are contained in the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill, which is nearing the end of its passage through parliament. Consultation on NHS changes, such as the closure of maternity wards, was already a sham in some cases, the committee said. “Elsewhere, NHS bodies have sought to evade their duty to consult entirely,” it added. The Committee also made comment that Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, intervened too often in decisions after extensive local consultation, leading to illogical conclusions and undermining public confidence in the consultation process.

PRimage comment

Judy Viitanen agrees with the MPs comments – let’s hope Patricia Hewitt and her team at the Department of Health take note of the Commons Health Select Committee’s views!

Head to head takeover battle for Boots!

Friday, April 20th, 2007

Alliance Boots, the country’s biggest pharmacy chain, has agreed to a 10.6 billion pound offer from a private equity firm and billionaire Stefano Pessina after they raised their bid by 5 percent. The Group now looks set to be the first FTSE 100 firm to fall into private equity hands after agreeing the ¬£10.90p-a-share offer. Mr Pessina and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) tabled the increased bid as it emerged that fellow suitors the Wellcome Trust and private equity firm Terra Firma had put forward an indicative offer of ¬£10.85p a share, equivalent to ¬£10.5 billion. Sir Nigel Rudd, chairman of Alliance Boots, said he was “delighted that the board has been able to achieve such a good price for shareholders”. He added: “The formation last year of Alliance Boots created a hugely valuable business and this offer reflects that.”

PRimage comment

With pharmacy client interests, Judy Viitanen has been avidly following these takeover tussles and developments over the recent weeks, during which KKR and Pessina have been trying to head off potential counterbids. German drugs wholesaler Celesio AG , which also owns the Lloyds pharmacy chain, declined to comment on newspaper reports it is was also considering a bid. KKR and Pessina said their bid included any final dividend that Alliance Boots pays for the year ended March 21.  

A lot can change in the course of a day: this morning the Alliance Boots Board approved the KKR bid to shareholders; but this afternoon PRimage has heard that there is now a head to head battle for Boots, and the latest update is that Terra Firma private equity consortium has now countered with an increased bid, putting forward proposals for a 1115p-a-share offer

Watch this space ….!

£ goes through $2 barrier

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

A surge in the rate of UK inflation sends the pound through the $2 mark for the first time since 1992.

PRimage comment

This is great news for exporters and UK visitors and holidaymakers to the States – but bad news for importers.¬† Judy Viitanen and the PRimage team are delighted at the timing of this excellent ¬£:$ exchange rate, as we’re off to America next week on a business trip to New York, and a short holiday in Florida.

Rate hike fear as inflation jumps

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

The UK looks set for a further rise in interest rates after the annual rate of inflation increases to 3.1% in March. Media reports suggest that consumers have been left struggling with rising bills and the prospect of interest rates at six per cent after inflation breached the Government’s target by more than one per cent last month.

BA – airline of the year

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

Despite enduring numerous difficulties in recent months, British Airways has been named airline of the year at an awards ceremony in London. It was the first time since 1988 that BA has taken the top prize in the Airline of the Year Awards organised by travel information company the Official Airline Guide (OAG). BA was also voted top airline in three other categories – best transatlantic airline, best Europe to Asia and Australasia carrier, and best airline based in Western Europe.

Get ready for the smoking ban – you can quit and win!

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

Smoking cessation advice from your local Day Lewis Pharmacist: We are all aware of the dangers of smoking: smoking kills 120,000 people prematurely and is responsible for many diseases, including cancers, heart disease and stroke. But the good news is that by giving up smoking, you will reduce your risk of getting most of these diseases. The Day Lewis Pharmacy Group, which has 162 community pharmacies in local communities around the country, provides comprehensive smoking cessation services to its customers – and is keen to help anyone who needs expert, friendly advice and sustained support to stop smoking. As the clock ticks down to the ban on smoking in public places, the message from your Day Lewis pharmacist is: “plan ahead and let me help you stub out your cigarette addiction.”

Peter Glover, the Day Lewis Superintendent Pharmacist, comments: “With the smoking ban in England starting on July 1st, this is an excellent and timely moment to make the decision to ‘quit and win’. Our Day Lewis pharmacies in your area are geared up to helping their customers ‘quit and win’, offering free advice and support on giving up smoking – so why not pop in to your local Day Lewis branch and have a confidential chat to our pharmacists?. Stopping smoking has major and immediate health benefits for men and women of all ages. These benefits apply to people with and without smoking-related diseases. As a healthcare professional, I can assure you that it really is worth having a go.”

The Day Lewis Pharmacy Group offers the following advice and tips that can help you stay focussed and succeed for good:

Day Lewis Advice: Don’t wait until it is too late to quit. Learn the facts about smoking today.

Your chances of getting lung cancer are 10 times greater than a non-smoker. You are twice as likely to have a heart attack. Cigarette smoking is strongly linked with emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Cigarette smoke contains about 4,000 chemicals. Many are poisonous and over 40 of them are linked to cancer. Pregnant women who smoke increase their risk of having a stillborn or low birth weight infant. Cigarette smoke is harmful to everyone who inhales it, including those who do not smoke themselves. Children of smokers are twice as likely to pick up the habit when they grow older.

Most smokers would like to quit and many have tried on a number of occasions. But what should you do when you’ve made the decision to quit? Day Lewis Advice: Get ready to quit. Find out if you have what it takes to stop smoking. Do you want to stop smoking? Are you willing to make some changes in your daily routine? Are you prepared to deal with some challenging moments once you make the commitment to quit?

If you answered yes to these questions, you are ready to stop smoking now, with the help of the free smoking cessation services and advice on offer at your local Day Lewis pharmacy.

Day Lewis Advice: Develop a plan. Take control of your addiction today. Contact your local Day Lewis Pharmacy for one to one support or join a local stop smoking clinic. Being with other people who are also stopping smoking provides all-important mutual support. Try using nicotine replacement products – they can improve your chances of stopping smoking by up to 4 times. Your Day Lewis pharmacist can answer any questions you may have, and will recommend a nicotine replacement (NRT) product that’s right for you. Pick a day to stop smoking. Tell your family and friends about your plans. You will need their encouragement when you feel the urge to light up. Get rid of all your cigarettes, lighters, and ashtrays since you will no longer need them. Be prepared to feel the urge to light up. The urge will be strong at first, but will later diminish.

Day Lewis Advice: You will feel the benefits of quitting straight away as your body repairs itself. Depending on the number of cigarettes you smoke, typical benefits of stopping are:

After twelve hours almost all of the nicotine is out of your system. After twenty-four hours the level of carbon monoxide in your blood has dropped dramatically. You now have more oxygen in your bloodstream. After five days most nicotine by-products have gone. Within days your sense of taste and smell improves. Within a month your blood pressure returns to its normal level and your immune system begins to show signs of recovery. Within two months your lungs will no longer be producing extra phlegm caused by smoking. After twelve months your increased risk of dying from heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker.After ten years of stopping your risk of lung cancer is less than half that of a continuing smoker and continues to decline (provided the disease is not already present). After fifteen years your risk of heart attack and stroke is almost the same as that of a person who has never smoked.

Peter Glover adds: “Although there is no magic way to stop smoking, research shows people are more likely to successfully quit if they have sought help from their pharmacist. And our Day Lewis pharmacists are ready and willing to help you today!. The Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT) available from our pharmacies includes patches, lozenges, inhalers, tablets and chewing gum in varying strengths. You will find that these products can help you to quit by easing the nicotine withdrawal symptoms, such as cravings and mood changes, while you break your smoking habits and learn new ways to cope. So ask one of our pharmacists how NRT works and whether it is an option for you. They will help you choose the best product for you and will continue to encourage and support you over the next few months. Good luck!”

PRimage comment:

Judy Viitanen recently issued this healthcare PR feature on behalf of our PRimage client, Day Lewis Plc.  Look out for it in your local paper.

Beleagured NHS IT system – more criticism and comment on ‘major problems’

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

The multi-billion pound NHS IT upgrade is “not looking good” and requires urgent remedial action, an influential group of MPs has warned. Doubts over the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) – the biggest civilian computer project in history – are rife among staff and the benefits are still unclear, according to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). Chairman Edward Leigh urged the Department of Health to get a grip before the scheme slid out of control. NPfIT is expected to cost ¬£12.4bn by 2013/14, making it the biggest civilian computer project in history.

Committee chairman Edward Leigh said that the Department of Health “must get a grip on what it and the NHS are spending”. “It must thrash out with its suppliers a robust delivery timetable in which everyone, including local NHS organisations, can have more confidence.Urgent remedial action is needed at the highest level if the long-term interests of NHS patients and taxpayers are to be protected.” Shadow health minister Stephen O’Brien said that doctors and nurses “were left out of the planning and design of the NHS IT programme”. “Costs have risen, delays in the delivery of software has lengthened, and all because local NHS chiefs were not given enough flexibility in implementing the IT,” he added. “Patricia Hewitt must be held to account for this. She has presided over a cash crisis and growing staff disillusionment in our NHS. “A beleaguered IT programme can now be added to her portfolio of failure. Yet I fear that even this stinging report will not make Patricia Hewitt see sense.” For the Liberal Democrats, health spokesman Norman Lamb said: “There can be no doubt that ministers’ plans have gone badly wrong. “The government has put IT in the NHS in a centrally controlled strait jacket.” He called for an “immediate end to further spending on the project, along with an independent inquiry”.

PRimage comment

This is another healthcare issue which PRimage has made frequent blog comment on Рand the sagas continue.  Judy Viitanen believes that the Public Accounts Committee are totally justified in issuing these criticisms, and agrees that the whole project is in need of urgent remedial action.    Few in the NHS would argue that if successful, NPfIT will revolutionise the way the NHS in England uses information, but as PRimage has commented previously, the programme has been beset with probems Рand it appears that IT suppliers are still struggling to deliver effective systems.  The net result of all these sagas and problems, is that the project is falling still further behind schedule.

Health Secretary concedes doctors’ training review

Tuesday, April 17th, 2007

A new independent review will be established to take forward the Government’s policy of modernising medical careers, Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has announced. Ms Hewitt said it would “clarify and strengthen” the principles of the beleaguered Modernising Medical Careers (MMC) programme and ensure that necessary changes were made in the future.She apologised “unreservedly” to doctors for the recent chaos over medical training, but insisted the Government now had “the right way forward” and that applicants could be “confident that they will be treated fairly”.

PRimage comment

Judy Viitanen¬†has commented on this¬†in previous news blogs – and as a healthcare PR and public affairs lobbying company, it is an issue that PRimage will continue to monitor and comment on.¬†¬†Judy Viitanen¬†is pleased that junior doctors have been guaranteed an interview for their first-choice job – but there are still many aspects that the junior doctors lobby are concerned about. According to BMA figures, 34,250 junior doctors have applied for 18,500 specialist posts around the UK.¬† PRimage was interested to read Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley’s comment that¬†Ms Hewitt had been forced to “eat three helpings of humble pie over the issue!”.