Kroger building a patient-care powerhouse

No. of stores: 2,461, No. of stores with Rx: 1,950

The nation’s largest supermarket chain wants a bigger share of the U.S. pharmacy and wellness market. To get it, Kroger is brandishing a growing arsenal of health and preventive services, and burnishing its image for value and convenience at the prescription counter.

Kroger is the fifth-largest chain pharmacy operator in the United States in number of locations, and filled more than 136 million prescriptions last year, worth approximately $6.9 billion. The chain has added drive-through pharmacies to some 750 of its locations, and opened up and realigned its pharmacies to make them easier for shoppers to access.

“In addition to convenience, our pharmacies strive to provide good value” with a $4 generic pricing program that now includes more than 300 drugs, noted the company. “We also offer 90-day supplies of many of these prescriptions for $10, and we have increased the number of women’s health medications that we offer at discounted prices.”

Kroger also is aggressively growing its menu of pharmacy- and clinic-based health services. Some of its stores now offer a variety of biometric health screenings for cholesterol, diabetes and body fat with rapid blood-test results that can be forwarded to the family physician. Other services include a smoking-cessation program; a 12-week fitness, nutrition and weight-loss program; diabetes education and coaching by registered dietitians, certified diabetes educators and pharmacists with certification in diabetes management; and travel vaccines and adult immunizations. The chain also operates 77 in-store clinics through The Little Clinic, which it purchased in 2010.

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