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.

11/22/2013 - 3:43pm

A new report released by Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix shows that the Canadian healthcare system could save C$1.4 billion to C$1.9 billion by expanding the role of pharmacists.

While there are some important differences between the healthcare systems in the United States and Canada, both face common problems, in particular, a rising burden of chronic disease and rising costs. But they also have in common a way to alleviate some of the burden on physicians and some of the costs: increasing the kinds of services that pharmacists can provide.

11/15/2013 - 4:25pm

Rite Aid is testing a revamped beauty section in at least one of its Genuine Well Being stores, in New York's West Village. Dubbed Beauty Vision, the section features a wider assortment of brands, a spruced-up look and a Beauty Vision adviser who can help customers learn about various brands and products. The chain is promoting the new concept with a special event on Tuesday featuring Eddie Funkhouser, creator of the eponymous cosmetic brand.

Assuming president Obama's healthcare reform initiative works out - notwithstanding the rough start it's had so far - and tens of millions of uninsured Americans get healthcare coverage, it's going to mean a lot of potential new customers for pharmacy retailers. But while that will drive script count and get people through the door, it will also drive pharmacy margins down. This means retailers will need to do more to make themselves stand out in the front end, and one of the best ways to do that is with beauty.

DSN took a close look at Rite Aid's new beauty concept this week. See it for yourself.

11/15/2013 - 4:21pm

CVS Caremark has announced the appointment of William Shrank as chief scientific officer and chief medical officer, provider innovation and analytics. In this role, Shrank will oversee the company’s overall research and clinical program development.

Why is this so important? Well, he’s a physician having previously practiced with Brigham Internal Medicine Associates. He also served as assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and served as director, research and rapid-cycle evaluation for the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. And what’s especially interesting to note — as highlighted by CVS Caremark — is that Shrank is “experienced in pharmaceutical outcomes research.”

11/15/2013 - 3:34pm

Following a successful test run last summer, Target has announced the expansion of its Beauty Concierge program to nearly 100 stores in three metro areas across the country — making the program now available in nearly 300 Target locations nationwide.

Why is this important? Customers want an experience when shopping. And getting customers more engaged in product and experience with "brand-agnostic experts" is a safe bet.

11/08/2013 - 3:55pm

A proposed rule from the Food and Drug Administration would effectively eliminate artificial trans fats from foods in the United States by classifying partially hydrogenated oils as unsafe food additives and thus permitting them only in certain cases.

In its proposal, the FDA emphasized that it would give manufacturers of foods that contain trans fats enough time to reformulate their recipes in order to minimize market disruptions by spreading out the initial cost of about $8 billion over a number of years. While trans fats have been eliminated from most foods already, foods that still contain them include frozen pizzas, microwave popcorn, margarines and some dessert foods.