Pharmacy retailers move fast on Zyrtec launch

BENTONVILLE, Ark. Wal-Mart got a three-day jump start on itself on the newly switched Zyrtec allergy medication, which became available at select Wal-Mart U.S. stores as early as Jan. 21, the company announced Tuesday. According to Wal-Mart executives, the company was able to employ supply-chain learnings from the GlaxoSmithKline launch of alli last year that enabled Wal-Mart to move the product quickly into stores.

Wal-Mart will offer eight different OTC Zyrtec products, including tablets, chewable tablets and syrup in each of its 4,128 U.S. stores by Jan. 23, the company added.

“Many of the country’s 50 million allergy sufferers have looked to us for their prescription Zyrtec, and we’re sure they’ll continue to look to us for the OTC product,” stated John Agwunobi, senior vice president and president for Wal-Mart’s professional services division. “In fact, they’ll look to us for the lowest price on OTC Zyrtec and we don’t plan to let them down.”

Wal-Mart's efforts were not, however, a result of any special "first-to-market" arrangements with Zyrtec maker McNeil Consumer Healthcare. According to Walgreens spokesman Michael Polzin, Walgreens, too, took advantage of its supply chain to move Zyrtec into select stores by Jan. 21 and had it available in all 6,100-plus stores by Jan. 22. And CVS Caremark spokesman Mike DeAngelis told Drug Store News that CVS, too, had Zyrtec available in select stores as early as Jan. 21, and in all of its 6,200-plus stores by Jan. 22. In addition, CVS stores are carrying 10 Zyrtec SKUs, he noted.

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