Special Reports

What a difference a year makes. Walgreens’ management and shareholders were long accustomed to steady, record-breaking gains in sales and earnings, and a pedal-to-the-metal store development strategy, that made Walgreens the nation’s fastest-growing pharmacy retailer and a market leader in cities across the country. As recently as the company’s annual meeting in January 2008, former chairman and CEO Jeff Rein reaffirmed that strategy, outlining a bold plan for filling in markets across the...

Despite all the debate over the use of cough-cold medicines in children under the age of 12, sales of cough-cold medicines didn’t do too badly last year. For the 52 weeks ended Jan. 25, sales of all cough-cold remedies — including cough drops, cough syrups, cold-allergy liquids and cold-allergy tablets — were up 10.5%, totaling $4 billion across food, drug and mass outlets (minus Walmart) according to Information Resources Inc data. Of course, the lion’s share of that growth comes courtesy...

In dismal economic times, lower-cost product alternatives that save consumers money are supposed to thrive, or at least hold their own. But in the midst of a global financial meltdown, even the market for generic drugs is faltering. The worldwide sales growth rate of me-too medicines slowed to a crawl in the 12 months ended September 2008, rising a weak 3.6% over the previous 12-month period, IMS Health reported.

Like boxers in the ring, both regional and national players are battling for the win and striving to overcome much of the same challenges, whether it is an uppercut from average wholesale price, a jab from patients coping with rising pharmacy premiums and co-pays, or a counterpunch from the rival down the street. But despite the challenges and added pressure from retail heavyweights, regional players refuse to get pinned against the ropes.

If current trends in pharmaceutical sales are any indication, retail pharmacy leaders may have to look beyond the prescription department for big gains in store revenues this year. Hammered by a lack of new breakthroughs in research and development, tougher oversight at the Food and Drug Administration, generic competition and a worldwide economy in free fall, the U.S. pharmaceutical market is mired in an era of stagnant sales and declining expectations. And the outlook for an uptick in...

Sales of vitamins across food, drug and mass outlets (minus Walmart) grew by a whopping 8.9% to $2.7 billion for the 52 weeks ended Nov. 30, 2008, according to data from Information Resources Inc. That kind of growth affirms an October 2008 survey released by the Council for Responsible Nutrition that suggested the majority of dietary supplement users didn’t cut back on their supplement regimens, despite the tougher economy. According to the survey, 51% of supplement users indicated that the...

The situation is like having plans to bake a loaf of bread for dinner, but discovering at 5 p.m. that the flour is running low, and there is little time to go to the supermarket to buy more. Generic drug makers depend on a steady supply of expiring patents coming from large pharmaceutical companies for their business. In recent years, a whole slew of blockbuster drugs have come off patent, allowing generic drug makers to lap up the drug compounds. Over the next several years, however, the...

The pharmacy at Wal-Mart is in for some major changes in the coming years as the retailer looks to upgrade its prescription drug departments in keeping with a broader strategy to make the customer experience at its stores fast, clean and friendly.

In times of uncertainty and economic turmoil, Americans still have to eat and take their medicines. That essential marketplace truism isn’t lost on supermarket pharmacy operators. Trading on the enormous appeal of one-stop shopping convenience, growing demands among consumers for healthier eating alternatives, and their own growing ability to merge the health and prevention expertise of their pharmacy staff with the nutritional benefits offered in the food aisles, food-store operators...

The 1840s had the California Gold Rush. The 1990s had the tech boom. Years from now, historians might label the early 2000s the generic drugs rush. But whatever they call it, the big growth years may be behind the generic drug industry. In fact, some believe that over the course of the next five years or so, the boom even could go bust, as a shortage of big blockbuster drug launches today means a dropoff in the number of new generic introductions tomorrow — pointing to even stiffer...