JEWEL-OSCO PLANS ASTHMA COUNSELING

MELROSE PARK, Ill. -- Jewel-Osco here is now developing an asthma-care program based on a successful diabetes program launched late last year.The chain has identified 17 Chicago-area stores that will participate in the asthma program, which is expected to be available to customers by Aug. 1, according to Gerald Bay, vice president of pharmacy operations East.The program will feature counseling services

MELROSE PARK, Ill. -- Jewel-Osco here is now developing an asthma-care program based on a successful diabetes program launched late last year.

The chain has identified 17 Chicago-area stores that will participate in the asthma program, which is expected to be available to customers by Aug. 1, according to Gerald Bay, vice president of pharmacy operations East.

The program will feature counseling services focusing on lifestyle changes and compliance with drug therapy, Bay said, adding that Jewel-Osco pharmacists involved in the asthma-care effort completed a one-day training seminar in October.

"We're going to use the diabetic program as a template," he said.

"Eating Healthy With Diabetes" initially took place Nov. 12 to 22 as part of the American Diabetes Association's National Diabetes Awareness Month. It consisted of store tours led by dietitians and pharmacists in 18 Chicago-area Jewel-Oscos and will be repeated at least twice a year, Bay said.

The store tours, free to shoppers, lasted an hour to 90 minutes, Bay said. Dietitians led groups of 15 to 20 people through the grocery aisles, pointing out food items to seek out or avoid. Then pharmacists showed the groups what over-the-counter medications are safe or unsafe for diabetics to consume.

Finally, representatives from Boehringer Mannheim, Indianapolis, a manufacturer of blood-glucose monitors, demonstrated how to use the devices and distributed them free to participants.

Tour leaders informed participants about diabetes-education classes conducted by Jewel-Osco pharmacies. The classes, five different ones in all, cost about $35 each, $150 for all, Bay said. People taking the classes pay out of pocket for them, but Jewel-Osco pharmacists will give assistance in seeking reimbursement from insurance companies.

"Eating Healthy With Diabetes" participants also received "goody bags" filled with coupons, rebate offers and samples of products from such companies as drug manufacturer Eli Lilly & Co., Indianapolis, which, along with Boehringer Mannheim, was a sponsor of the program.

Bay said Jewel-Osco is poised to sign agreements with two or three suppliers that have expressed "serious interest" in the asthma program.

"Eating Healthy With Diabetes" was promoted through one-third-page circular ads, in-store signage, ads on the back of local newspapers' TV guides and an ADA flier on display at Jewel-Osco pharmacies, Bay said.

The ADA also touted the program at its local walk-a-thon in October.

"This is the first time we've gone into a program like this, and it was very surprising to me how widely successful this was," he said. "People [who participated] were saying, 'I've learned more in this hour and a half than in all the time I've had this disease.' "

Bay noted also that drug-management efforts on behalf of diabetic patients had been profitable for Jewel-Osco. "Pharmacies are getting paid by insurance companies for diabetes interventions," he said. "That was something that didn't occur two years ago; now it's happening on a fairly regular basis."

None of the 17 stores participating in the asthma program took part in "Eating Healthy With Diabetes," Bay said. He added that osteoporosis is a leading candidate for Jewel-Osco's next counseling program.