Wal-Mart: A convenient recalculating of executive compensation – National Consumers League

By Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director

It seems that when it suits the head of the company, methods of calculating executive compensation can be changed. Wal-Mart chief executive Michael Duke has replaced the metric for determining executive compensation from same-store sales – defined as stores that have been open at least a year – to total company sales. Why? Because not surprisingly, same-store sales have declined while overall sales have increased 3.4 percent for the fiscal year. This is all documented in Gretchen Morgenson’s recent column in the New York Times.

So Duke will receive $18.7 million in compensation this year. What’s disturbing is that Wal-Mart has issued statements over the past several years about why same-store sales was such an important measure of performance. But since those sales are down, suddenly the goal posts have changed. One observer says that Wal-Mart’s decision to throw out same-store sales figures as a measure of executive compensation is “a failure to admit failure.”

In addition (and even more disturbing), Wal-Mart has decided to end its profit-sharing programs for lower-level workers. Sam Walton, who founded Wal-Mart, took great pride in these programs for workers. Many who knew Sam Walton don’t believe he would have supported the anti-worker, cutthroat strategies adopted by Wal-Mart’s executives over the past two decades. But we won’t see any such leadership from the current head of Wal-Mart, not when he has shown himself able to re-jigger the formula for determining his compensation to ensure he makes close to $20 million.

Overcoming obstacles on the path to prescription medication adherence – National Consumers League

When it comes to managing a chronic health condition, taking your medication as directed seems like a simple no-brainer. With this idea in mind, many of us find the poor national adherence rate shocking—three out of four, or 75 percent, of Americans are non-adherent, resulting in an estimated 125,000 deaths and up to $300 billion dollars in healthcare costs each year.

Yet as patient and heart health advocate Ron Michaud explained at the recent Script Your Future launch event, managing his heart disease, blood pressure, and diabetes requires juggling 13 different medications and 24 pills taken four times a day, everyday.

Michaud made it clear that he wouldn’t be here today without a strong support system to help keep him on track.

“I’ve needed my doctor’s support, my wife’s support, and some tools to manage my medication adherence,” he told a packed auditorium at George Washington University Hospital. “If today’s medications were available when I began my journey with heart disease, and I used my adherence tools, I might have avoided some of the heart attacks and surgeries I have undergone.”

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin was on-hand to explain how the Script Your Future campaign was created to provide just the kind of support patients like Michaud need. ScriptYourFuture.org offers visitors free text-message medication reminders, sample questions to ask health care professionals, lists and charts to keep track of medicines, videos on how to properly use certain medical devices, and fact sheets on chronic conditions like asthma and high cholesterol.  There is also a feature that lets users create a personalized pledge to adhere to medications for themselves or a loved one.

Aside from the dynamic website, the campaign will include regional launches and educational events in target markets like Baltimore, Cincinnati, Birmingham, Providence, Sacramento, and Raleigh.

“I am proud to be a part of the Script Your Future campaign,” said the Surgeon General. “As America’s doctor, I want to keep this significant public issue at the forefront and am committed to working to raise awareness about how clinicians can help their patients.”

Dr. Benjamin stressed that health care professionals, as well as patients, have a critical role in improving the national adherence rate. Dr. Benjamin shared an emotional story about a former patient named Donna who was continuing to experience seizures despite taking all the medicines her doctor prescribed. Only after asking Donna to draw all her medications on paper, did Dr. Benjamin realize that Donna couldn’t read and was relying on her pills’ shapes and colors to identify them—she ran into trouble as soon as she received multiple prescriptions of pills of the same color from her pharmacist.

The critical need to educate health care practitioners about how to talk to their patients is why the campaign also includes a site dedicated to health professionals.  The site includes a variety of interactive tools such as tips on how to begin honest conversations with patients and journal articles on adherence and how it can be improved.

By encouraging health professionals and their patients to work together, the campaign hopes to help those living with chronic conditions live, longer healthier lives—the ultimate goal of patients and doctors alike.


NCL officially launches the Script Your Future campaign! – National Consumers League

Yesterday, NCL launched the Script Your Future campaign to a packed GW Hospital auditorium. NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg gave the opening remarks and introduced keynote speaker, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin.

Fellow panelists included Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Dr. William Shrank, Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, Cherokee Layson-Wolf, and patient and Heart Health Advocate, Ron Michaud.

NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin, and patient and Heart Health Advocate Ron Michaud

ScriptYourFuture.org, the campaign’s centerpiece site, went live and audience members were introduced to the website’s many features, including free text message medication reminders, sample questions to ask health care professionals, lists and charts to keep track of medicines, videos on how to properly use certain medical devices, and fact sheets on chronic conditions like asthma and high cholesterol.

NCL also debuted two campaign television spots: a PSA featuring the Surgeon General and the motivational, patient-focused “I Will” ad.

For a more complete run through of yesterday’s launch, please click here. If you’d like to view the live stream of the launch, visit our Facebook page by clicking here.



NCL unveils the Script Your Future campaign! Watch live! – National Consumers League

NCL is proud to announce that Script Your Future, our national public education campaign, launches today! The campaign is designed to help consumers take back their health by helping them take their medicine as directed.

The U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Regina M. Benjamin, will help kick off the campaign at The George Washington University Hospital. Watch the live stream on our Facebook page or on our Ustream page starting at 11 am!

Non-adherence, or failing to take medicine as directed, is a growing problem in the Unites States. Research shows that three out of four Americans are non-adherent and approximately 125,000 deaths per year in the U.S are linked non-adherence.

To combat this troubling trend, the centerpiece of the first-of-its-kind, multi-year campaign is the www.ScriptYourFuture.org website, which provides tools to help patients follow their prescribed medication schedule. The site includes a variety of helpful features such as free text message reminders, sample questions, medication lists and charts to keep track of medicines, and fact sheets on common chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure.

Today’s launch introduces the consumer face of the campaign. A companion site with adherence tools for health care professionals, www.ScriptYourFuture.org/HCP, was launched in March.

For more information on the importance of medication adherence click here to view the briefing paper co-authored by NCL and Duke University.

U.S. Surgeon General joins with NCL to launch medication adherence awareness campaign, Script Your Future – National Consumers League

May 11, 2011

Contact: NCL Communications, (202) 835-3323, media@nclnet.org

Washington, DC—Today the National Consumers League (NCL) launches a new public education campaign, Script Your Future, to raise awareness among patients about the consequences of not taking medication as directed. Three out of four Americans are non-adherent, meaning that they fail to take prescribed medicines as directed by their health care professionals.

“There are many different reasons why people don’t take their medicine as directed, from concerns about side effects to the out-of-pocket costs of prescriptions. But the consequences for patients are the same. Non-adherence puts patients, especially those with chronic conditions, at risk for serious complications,” said Sally Greenberg, executive director of NCL, the nation’s oldest consumer group.

The U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Regina M. Benjamin, helped kick off the campaign at The George Washington University Hospital, calling America’s medication adherence problem a public health concern, significant enough to warrant the widespread interest of health care stakeholders that resulted in the launch of Script Your Future.

Medication adherence is part of the Surgeon General’s Prevention Focus. “Our national challenge is to prevent poor health outcomes and to become a healthy and fit nation. One way is for the health care community and patients to come together to address the serious issue of medication non-adherence,” said Dr. Benjamin. “As a family physician, I know that conversations between clinicians and their patients are key to patients understanding why taking their medication correctly is so important, particularly in chronic health conditions such as diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure. The tools offered through NCL’s Script Your Future campaign empower patients to talk with their health care teams about their medication questions and concerns.”

The centerpiece of the first-of-its-kind, multi-year campaign is a website, www.ScriptYourFuture.org, which provides tools to support patient efforts to adhere to their prescribed medicine. Tools include free text message reminders, sample questions, medication lists and charts to keep track of medicines, and fact sheets on common chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure. A companion campaign site with adherence tools for health care professionals, www.ScriptYourFuture.org/HCP, was launched in March.

Script Your Future is supported by a coalition of nearly 100 public and private partners and sponsors, including health care professional groups, chronic disease groups, health insurance plans, pharmaceutical companies, business organizations, consumer groups, as well as researchers and government agencies.

The campaign was informed by research outlined in a new briefing paper, “Medication Adherence: Making the Case for Increased Awareness,” co-authored by Hayden B. Bosworth at Duke University Medical Center, and the National Consumers League. Bosworth is a research partner in the national effort and is based in Durham, N.C., one of six regional city markets where the campaign will pilot campaign activities, research and advertising. The other regional markets are Baltimore, Md.; Birmingham, Ala.; Cincinnati, Ohio; Providence, R.I.; and Sacramento, Calif.

The briefing paper defines medication adherence and reviews specific research on the problems that occur with non-adherence; the growing focus on the issue by both the U.S. and global health communities; and the qualitative research commissioned by the National Consumers League that informed the Script Your Future campaign.

“Poor medication adherence is costing Americans their good health, and is costing our nation an estimated $290 billion each year in avoidable healthcare costs,” said Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE, chairman of the Board of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation. “Improved adherence will contribute to lower overall health care costs and increased quality of life. Script Your Future focuses national attention on this issue and helps pharmacists and other health care professionals support consumers in taking their medications as prescribed.”

Throughout the next three years, the campaign will provide materials through partnerships with pharmacies, hospitals, medical offices and clinics, and health insurance plans; host community events and health fairs; and evaluate medication adherence awareness through research.

To learn more about the campaign, view campaign advertising and materials, and the briefing paper, “Medication Adherence: Making the Case for Increased Awareness,” please go to www.ScriptYourFuture.org.


About Script Your Future and NCL

Script Your Future is a campaign of the National Consumers League (NCL), a private, non-profit membership organization founded in 1899. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. The National Consumers League serves consumers across the country by providing government, businesses and other organizations with the consumer’s perspective on a range of concerns – including health care and medication information. As an advocacy organization, NCL is working to educate consumers and key health stakeholders on the importance of taking medication as directed. For more information about this campaign, visit www.ScriptYourFuture.org, and for more information on our other areas of focus, please visit www.nclnet.org.

What Bin Laden’s death means to women – National Consumers League

By Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director

When President Obama went on TV to announce that Osama bin Laden had been killed by American Navy Seals, I was in Los Angeles at NCL’s national LifeSmarts competitions. Over the last few days I’ve been thinking about why this is such a critically important event for me, my friends, and colleagues. After all, as the Executive Director of the National Consumers League, I’m a consumer advocate and a labor supporter; we don’t work on foreign policy issues unless they affect child labor. Last I checked, Al Qaeda’s issues weren’t affecting child labor issues. So, how could his death have any real relevance to what we do at NCL?

But last Monday night, as I met three other working women in Phoenix for dinner to prepare for an important meeting the next day, I realized the answer to why bin Laden’s death is so significant: because a world ruled by bin Laden and his followers in Al Qaeda represents a life of repression and subjugation for women and girls.  That my colleagues and I have the freedom to pursue careers, travel, raise children and earn a living is a world unknown to the women in bin Laden’s world.

In fact, bin Laden took refuge in Afghanistan when it was run by the Taliban, the notorious regime that, immediately upon taking power, forbade girls to go to school. Bin Laden had a close working relationship with Al Qaeda. Under the Taliban, women were barred from working outside the home, precipitating a crisis in healthcare and education. Women were also prohibited from leaving their home without a male relative—those that did so risked being beaten, even shot, by officers of the “ministry for the protection of virtue and prevention of vice.” A woman caught wearing fingernail polish may have had her fingertips chopped off. All this, according to the Taliban, was to safeguard women and their honor.

So the death of Osama bin Laden means that the key iconic leader of this repressive, anti-American political movements gone. So as four working women – my three dinner companions were all very accomplished women –  sat at a lovely Phoenix restaurant on Monday and discussed the news of Osama’s death, I took satisfaction in the freedoms we women in the Western world enjoy but so often don’t stop to appreciate.

Moin Kahn’s Tragic Death May Help other children in India – National Consumers League

By Reid Maki, Child Labor Coalition Coordinator, National Consumers League

Moin Khan isn’t a name known by most Americans, but it should be.

Moin Khan went to work in New Delhi at age seven—one of several million child laborers working in India (estimates by advocacy groups of the number ofchildren working in India range from 44 million to 100 million, according to the U.S. Department of Labor).

Moin’s case stands out though because he had a particularly brutal employer—his uncle, Kalimullah Khan —allegedly beat him to death with a blunt weapon on April 16 because the boy was working too slow.
Moin was only 10 when he was murdered.

Three years earlier, the Moin left his home on a train and traveled to New Delhi, about 300 miles away, in a deal arranged between the uncle and the boy’s grandfather. For the last three years of his life—for the rest of his life– Moin did not see his parents. He worked tirelessly, rolling bidis or beedes—thin cigarettes popular in India. Imagine a seven-year-old bent over 14 hours a day working feverishly at a repetitive task and you may start to sense what Moin’s new life was like. But the reality was even worse than you might imagine.

“Kalim was a really bad man. He beat up all of us if we made the smallest of mistakes. His punishments were severe,” said a seven-year-old boy rescued when Khan was arrested.

“He would put hot iron rods into our pants or he would hang us upside down from the fan or even throw us hard on the floor,” added the boy, one of five children who worked in the factory. “We were not allowed to go out or talk to anyone.”

On the day he killed his nephew, Kalimullah Khan beat all five children he “employed,” including Moin’s brother who is mute. Employed is in quotes because many child laborers in India do not get paid. Many are, in fact, slaves.

The sad details of Moin’s life were only discovered because a mortician noticed horrible bruises all over the young boy’s body and called authorities.

One wonders how many more children are being abused like Moin.

In the wake of Moin’s death, vigils have been held in New Delhi and a bright light has shown on exploitative child labor which is technically illegal in India. To improve enforcement, authorities just announced that they will be adding a hotline in New Delhi. India also banned child labor in circuses last month.

The public and officials in India are increasingly aware of child labor horrors. Moin Kahn did not intend to make his tragic death stand for something, but it has.

Readers interested in child labor should visit the web site of the Child Labor Coalition (CLC), which is co-chaired by the National Consumers League and the American Federation of Teachers. News from the CLC may also be followed under the Twitter name ChildLABRcoaltn.

Consumer groups stand up for Minnesota’s music and sports fans – National Consumers League

May 4, 2011

Contact: NCL Communications (202) 835-3323, media@nclnet.org

Minneapolis, MN – The National Consumers League and Consumer Action, two of the nation’s leading consumer advocacy groups, today urged Minnesota legislators to approve Senate File 425, a measure that would ensure consumers have the right to share or sell sports and entertainment tickets.

At issue is the relatively new practice of issuing restrictive paperless tickets, tied to a purchaser’s credit card and photo ID, in place of traditional tickets. This process can prevent consumers from transferring a ticket altogether and places burdensome restrictions on consumers. Senate File 425 will not eliminate electronic ticketing; it simply preserves consumers’ options for selling, trading or sharing event tickets.

John Breyault, vice president of public policy, telecommunications and fraud for the National Consumer League, urged the Minnesota Senate Judiciary Committee to support Senate File 425 because it protects consumers’ property rights by permitting the resale of tickets that they have already paid full price for and own. A Committee vote is expected in the coming weeks.

“Paperless tickets are a bold gambit by millionaire artists, billionaire sports team owners and Ticketmaster to eliminate competition in the resale market and wring every last dollar out of consumers,” stated Breyault, who also spoke on behalf of the national consumer group, Consumer Action. “Ticketmaster claims that paperless ticketing provides more convenience for consumers. However, paperless tickets have inconvenienced many more fans because they limit transferability and erase the secondary market.”

There have been reports of fans who are forced to await the arrival of their entire party before entering an event; who do not know their seat assignments until arriving at the stadium; who must accompany their children and stand in line in the cold to show their identification at an event they do not plan to attend; and who have experienced difficulties redeeming their purchases and transferring tickets to friends and family.

The secondary market has grown extensively since it moved from a cash business often conducted outside venues to the internet, where ticket reseller websites guarantee authenticity and allow consumers to buy and sell tickets at market price.

“Consumers frequently turn to the online ticket resale market because it is competitive, transparent, and often offers consumer protections that rival or exceed those of original ticket sellers,” added Linda Sherry, Director of National Priorities at Consumer Action. “I can understand why teams and event producers want to shut off fans’ access to the secondary market. But why should our elected representatives permit this? Haven’t taxpayers already funded stadiums, road, mass transit and others ways of supporting teams and event producers? Must we really give up our resale ticket rights too?”


About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

About Consumer Action

Consumer Action has been a champion of underrepresented consumers nationwide since 1971. A nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, Consumer Action focuses on financial education that empowers low to moderate income and limited-English-speaking consumers to financially prosper. Our diverse staff provides expert commentary on key consumer issues supported by solid data. We offer access to victim testimony, as well as expertise on current financial issues affecting low to moderate income and limited-English-speaking consumers.