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Publix's metformin offering expands supermarket presence in health care

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT Offering free metformin to diabetes patients in the deep South is a lot like setting up shop in the middle of Phoenix and announcing that free water is available to any dehydrated customers. That’s because when you place a map of Publix’s locations on top of a map showing where in the country diabetes is most prevalent, you’ll see that Publix is located in the U.S. diabetes hot spot. So why do it?

(THE NEWS: Publix pharmacies offering free metformin in line with diabetes program debut. For the full story, click here)

Supermarkets covet pharmacy patients because those customers represent more frequent trips, larger marketbaskets and the potential to fold them into medication therapy management programs or other paid services. Leverage that diabetic shopper against the food store and arm them with diabetes-friendly nutrition information, and you are also pushing those shoppers toward higher-margin categories — fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads and the host of premium-positioned products carrying a heart-healthy or diabetes-friendly endorsement.

For pharmacy operators not flying the Publix banner, this has the potential of becoming a new standard for the industry, much in the same way Walmart’s $4 generics program became commonplace across all pharmacy footprints. The first pharmacy in any region to make an offer like this will benefit the most, especially if that pharmacy is successful in capturing and converting those diabetes patients.

For information on diabetes density across the United States, check out http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/DDT_STRS2/NationalDiabetesPrevalenceEstimates.a....

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