03/21/2014 - 2:52pm

Good things happen in small boxes. That's what Walmart is counting on with the introduction of its latest store concept — Walmart To Go. First the supercenter, then Neighborhood Market, then WalmartExpress and now Walmart to Go. The boxes just keep getting smaller.

But what if Walmart is on to something? What if tomorrow's definition of convenience is ubiquity? Then it makes a lot of sense to start filling in the gaps between the supercenters with smaller formats.

03/14/2014 - 3:13pm

Wellness empowerment. Even before Rite Aid’s big announcement last week, officially unveiling its newest program, the Rite Aid Health Alliance, those two words more or less reflected every major initiative happening at the company over the last few years: the Wellness stores; its Wellness+, Rite Aid’s health-based loyalty program; the Wellness Ambassadors in its stores… It’s always been about engaging patients in wellness, and empowering them to take steps to improve their health and well being. The Rite Aid Health Alliance takes that commitment down to the “atomic level of patient engagement,” Rite Aid chairman and CEO said last week, at a live event at one of its Buffalo stores.

Through the program, Rite Aid pharmacists together with a new patient care position in Rite Aid stores, the Care Coach, work directly with patients with chronic conditions and poly-chronic conditions to help them meet specific health improvement goals, as outlined by the patient’s physician. Care coaches, who are specially trained in behavior change to help patients address health issues related to lifestyle, work with patients to take their physicians’ recommendations and “break them down into sizeable, understandable milestones,” Jocelyn Konrad, VP healthcare initiatives for Rite Aid, told DSN. Rite Aid’s Health Alliance stores can “become an extension of the physician’s office,” she said. “It’s going to be a different experience for the patient. Whatever [they] need to understand and be motivated, we will work to provide it.”

03/07/2014 - 4:13pm

It's finally happening. Pfizer has placed the ball at the line of scrimmage. And based on the X's and O's to come out of its Lipitor OTC actual-use study, Pfizer will be making its run with its eye on the ultimate prize — a successful Rx-to-OTC switch of a statin.

Only this time, the Food and Drug Administration may not be as quick to sack Pfizer's switch attempt. With the advances and pervasion of health technology in the self-care space by way of smartphones and tablets; with the evolution of the pharmacist as a healthcare professional able to practice at the top of their license; and with the adoption of diagnostic tests like a cholesterol panel that can be physically administered in the pharmacy, consumers may finally get it right when self-selecting a statin.

Because it's the consumer actual-use studies that have scuttled just about every statin switch attempt in the past. In the last switch of Mevacor, FDA advisory panelists determined the statin was safe enough for the self-care space. And it was effective. It's just that the consumers who would be right for an OTC statin didn't appropriately self-select. And if they can't appropriately self-select, what's the point, really?

02/28/2014 - 3:40pm

Following speculation that Safeway may be considering "strategic alternatives," Safeway executives during their latest conference call confirmed just that — the supermarket retailer placed itself on the sales block. Before that conference call, analysts were already putting two and two together and coming up with two viable suitors for the Safeway footprint — private investment firm Cerberus, also known as New Albertsons, and supermarket giant Kroger, which has just closed on Harris Teeter for $2.5 billion.

Cerberus is said to be the lead bidder, but Kroger shouldn't be ruled out. But what would Cerberus or Kroger be getting if they purchased Safeway outright for almost $10 billion? In addition to 1,335 locations and a $2.7 billion book of prescription business, there would be some intangibles in the deal as well — namely Safeway's relatively advanced Just for U loyalty program and a yet-to-be launched health-and-wellness platform that's supposed to evolve Safeway over the next decade from being a food retailer into being a health solutions center.

02/21/2014 - 4:27pm

CVS Caremark’s MinuteClinic is testing telehealth at more than two-dozen sites in California and is looking to expand the pilot to a second state.

The pilot program not only further illustrates CVS Caremark’s goal of creating a national platform to support primary care but it also speaks to larger trend playing out within the country’s healthcare landscape — telehealth.

02/07/2014 - 12:38pm

CVS Caremark made big news — BIG news — when it announced on Feb. 5 that it would pull tobacco products from all of its pharmacy locations.

This is an extremely important step for the company as it sends the strong message that it is truly dedicated to helping people on their path to better health. Stripping away the roughly $2 billion in revenues garnered from the tobacco shopper likely wasn’t an easy decision but it makes sense — a lot of sense — for CVS. It clearly demonstrates to its shoppers, health systems and PBM clients that it is placing patients’ health front and center.

01/31/2014 - 3:31pm

If you don't succeed the first time, try, try again. That's exactly what McKesson did when it announced that it reached an agreement with Franz Haniel & Cie. GmbH to acquire its entire holding of Celesio shares. And in a separate and subsequent agreement, McKesson also picked up the Celesio convertible bonds from Elliott.

Nothing good is ever easy. "While the path to securing this acquisition was certainly not what we had originally expected, it would seem that the interested parties to this transaction continued to see the compelling strategic benefit of McKesson and Celesio uniting to form a global leader in health care services," John Hammergren, McKesson chairman, CEO and president, said of the deal. "I never lost sight of the value this transaction will bring to our customers, our supply chain partners, the employees of both organizations and our shareholders."

01/24/2014 - 3:43pm

Target is looking to open a new, smaller — much smaller — store in the base of an apartment building currently under construction near the University of Minnesota campus that will serve as a test for the new format dubbed TargetExpress, the New York Times has reported.

Clearly, the trend toward smaller continues. First it was Walmart Express and then CityTarget’s 80,000- to 125,000-sq.-ft. footprint, and now the even tinier TargetExpress. In fact, taking a look back at DSN’s “12 for 2012” story, which examined trends and issues impacting retail pharmacy in 2012, smaller formats were highlighted as one trend to watch. Obviously, it’s still one to watch.

01/17/2014 - 3:42pm

The National Community Pharmacists Association shared a proof of concept study that affirmed the value retail pharmacy can deliver in saving healthcare dollars. Patients who opted-in to medication synchronization programs offered through their community pharmacy averaged more than 100 additional days on therapy per year and were 30% more likely to take their medication as prescribed.

At a time when health systems and payers are actively seeking sound strategies to keep their patients from being readmitted to a hospital, pharmacy could very well be their panacea. Sticking to a prescribed drug therapy script does just that — it helps prevent re-hospitalizations, which will be a key metric with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The community pharmacist also sees the patients more often than other healthcare practitioners and has as many opportunities to provide appropriate course correction, if necessary, around a particular medicinal regimen if it isn't working. And medication synchronization augments the pharmacists' ability to keep their patients on point.