Pharmacy sales at Weis Markets increased 2.2% in 2010 vs. 2009 thanks in part to strong cough-cold sales over the year and the expansion of its pharmacy-based immunization program to most stores; Weis currently boasts 180 pharmacists who are certified by their respective boards of pharmacy to administer vaccines, the grocer reported.
“Our goal is by this fall to have every pharmacist certified to immunize,” Jeff Maltese, Weis VP pharmacy, told Drug Store News earlier this year. Medication therapy management is another focus Weis will be pursuing for this fall, Maltese added, where every Weis pharmacist will be trained to conduct an MTM consultation. The new Weis Market prototype, updated last year, features a redesigned pharmacy that includes a dedicated consultation room where Weis pharmacists can consult with patients around their drug regimens and administer vaccination shots.
To help capitalize on that pharmacy growth, as well as to help bring together pharmacy and food, Weis Markets streamlined its internal connection between wellness and pharmacy earlier this year with an organizational restructure that folds Weis Lifestyle Initiatives department, led by registered nutritionist Karen Buch, into the grocer’s pharmacy division. Buch now reports to Maltese. “There’s an opportunity for us to leverage both of those healthcare professionals, [the registered dietitian and pharmacist,] under one department,” Maltese said. There are plenty of opportunities to bridge nutrition and pharmacy, Maltese said, particularly for consumers with pre-existing chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and heart health issues. There’s also significant opportunity to develop prevention-minded programs for those health-savvy consumers, Maltese added.
The change could bring a more clinical vibe to Weis’ Healthy Bites publication, a free monthly magazine and social media directive that has historically featured health suggestions and better-for-you recipes published by Weis’ Lifestyle Initiatives team. “We’re also going to leverage [Buch’s] knowledge to educate pharmacists about how better to speak to their dietary considerations for their disease,” Maltese suggested.