12/13/2013 - 3:06pm

According to published reports, Express Scripts may be looking to start a "price war" among the makers of the latest generation of drugs for hepatitis C — which promise much shorter treatment times than standard therapies, but also cost significantly more — in an effort to bring down prices.

The stakes are certainly high. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 3.2 million people in the United States chronically infected with hepatitis C and hence at risk for liver cancer, and the CDC recommends that anyone born between 1945 and 1965 get tested for the virus.

12/06/2013 - 4:38pm

Seattle-based regional pharmacy chain Bartell Drugs will open, in early 2014, retail-based clinics inside three of its stores under a partnership with local health organization Group Health Cooperative.

The importance of the news isn’t just the fact that this will mark Bartell’s foray into the convenient care clinic arena but also that it speaks to a much broader notion — 2014 will be the year of the clinics. Yes, we have said it before and we’re saying it yet again.

12/06/2013 - 3:16pm

McKesson's Health Mart pharmacy franchisees recently gained access to a tool that has the potential of giving community pharmacy a leg up on the competition in the coming years. EQuIPP, from Pharmacy Quality Solutions, does just that — equips independents with individual store data that marks the performance of their pharmacy vs. a national benchmark.

It's putting the pestle where the mortar is — retail pharmacy has the patient touchpoints and data-tracking wherewithal to make a material impact on patient outcomes. Important, because that's what the new year will bring — more and more healthcare payers looking to improve their own patient outcomes. And what better way to do it than to partner with outperforming pharmacies?

12/06/2013 - 2:37pm

A study conducted among rural patients at Thrifty White Pharmacy locations in the Midwest and published in the November/December issue of the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association found that patients who received appointment-based medication synchronization were up to six times more likely to adhere to their therapies than those who didn't receive them.

Over the years, study after study has shown that pharmacists can play a crucial role in ensuring that patients take their drugs when they're supposed to and as instructed. And poor medication adherence is no small issue, as studies have shown it costs the country nearly $300 billion per year, in addition to contributing to poor health outcomes. It's been said that improvements in medication adherence can be the equivalent of a blockbuster drug, and according to the National Coalition on Health Care, self-management of chronic diseases could save $10 for every $1 spent.

12/02/2013 - 1:52pm

Canada's Jean Coutu Group is helping to bolster holiday sales with the launch of its "e-store window" inside the Longueuil Metro Station. Commuters will be able to shop a wall of deals using their smartphones with delivery before Dec. 24.

It's not really an example of thinking outside the box, as much as it's eliminating the concept of a box altogether. It's an extension of the Jean Coutu brand name into a space typically associated with billboard-style advertising, only stoppers-by can shop the space as easily as they do in the store or online.

12/02/2013 - 1:44pm

CVS Caremark is planning to acquire Coram, the specialty infusion services and enteral nutrition business unit of Apria Healthcare Group, for roughly $2.1 billion. Coram provides infusion therapies and nutrition services to more than 20,000 patients each month.

The acquisition is a significant move for CVS Caremark given the growth of the home infusion business and specialty pharmacy. Furthermore, it enables CVS Caremark to further leverage its “integration sweet spots” and is in line with the company’s strategy of investing in core businesses that will help drive growth.

12/02/2013 - 1:41pm

Rite Aid announced Monday the promotion of Karen Staniforth to group VP pharmacy initiatives and clinical services from her current position of VP pharmacy for the chain's mid-Atlantic division. In her new position, Staniforth will oversee the company's strategy around the Wellness Ambassadors, specially trained staff who walk the aisles of the stores and provide information on health and wellness products and programs, as well as serve as a "bridge" between the front end and the pharmacy.

From the beginning, Wellness Ambassadors have been a crucial part of Rite Aid's Wellness store remodel program, and early on, John Standley, its chairman and CEO, noted that Wellness stores with Wellness Ambassadors showed stronger sales than those without them. As of the chain's second-quarter 2014, the results of which it announced in September, there were 1,700 Wellness Ambassadors at 1,019 stores.

11/22/2013 - 5:25pm

On Nov. 18, the Senate passed by voice vote the Drug Quality and Security Act, sending to president Barack Obama's desk legislation that implements federal tracking and tracing of drugs and strengthens federal regulations on pharmacy compounding.

The bipartisan bill, which has the support of such trade groups as the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Community Pharmacists Association and the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, ties up a couple of problematic loose ends in the pharmaceutical supply chain, namely the so-called "downstream" supply chain, which refers to the path that drugs take from their manufacturers to providers and patients, as well as sterile compounding.

11/22/2013 - 4:09pm

Walgreens on Thursday announced the appointment of Sona Chawla, president of e-commerce, as president of digital and chief marketing officer. In this new role, Chawla will lead a newly created Digital and Marketing Division, establishing a unified and integrated digital, enterprise-wide marketing, and customer loyalty and insights group to advance Walgreens “Well Experience” strategy and vision to be the first choice in health and daily living in America and beyond, Walgreens stated.

Chawla is a brilliant thinker and tech wiz whose e-commerce strategies have helped Walgreens forge new relationships with customers however they engage with Walgreens — now she brings that expertise to a global marketing role for the company at a time when digitization and big data-driven insights are bringing a greater degree of personalization to customer engagement efforts.