January 25, 2013

Walmart recently announced that it would source $50 billion of the products sold in its stores in the United States over the next 10 years, according to a report in USA Today.

"Be American; buy American" has long been a slogan that makes buying U.S.-made goods sound nothing less than patriotic because it helps create American jobs, much like CVS' initiatives to create jobs for veterans, and the recent Made-in-USA fervor around the country has more than demonstrated that. But there are practical reasons for sourcing domestically as well, making it high time for retailers to start looking into putting more products with the "Made in USA" label on their shelves.

January 25, 2013

SCIO Health Analytics and Walgreens have teamed up to help employers gain maximum return on investment through worksite health centers. Through the partnership, SCIO will provide actionable data and reporting to demonstrate the value and impact of worksite health centers, while giving Walgreens’ clients areas of opportunity to further improve employee health and reduce costs.

More and more employers get it, and there is growing belief that as the clock ticks down to 2014 and full implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, even more employers will get it. In the meantime, projects like this that help provide outcome reporting will help make the ROI picture even clearer for big employers who still might be on the fence.

January 18, 2013

Walgreens and Televisa Consumer Products announced an expansion of their distribution across Walgreens with the inclination to share additional insights into the Hispanic community. Televisa's product portfolio spans from beauty items in haircare and skincare to OTC solutions in the cough/cold and pain relief categories.

Did you ever wonder what would happen if a broadcaster dabbled in the consumer packaged goods world? Would they be able to drive trial at an exponentially cheaper rate because they could flood their own airwaves with in-house commercials and product placements? Maybe. In the U.S. market it'd be difficult and becoming ever more so given the continued fracturing of media outlets. Network television operations today have to contend with hundreds of cable/satellite channels that are each creating their own content, not to mention relatively new primetime competitors like the Internet or mobile apps. In other words, it'd be difficult to reach a critical mass of viewers and at the same time substitute paid product placements with in-house (in other words not paid) product placements in the U.S. media marketplace.

January 18, 2013

Costco announced in its January 2013 magazine that it would begin offering pharmacy benefit management services, targeting small businesses and highlighting a 200-employee company based in Washington state.

It remains to be seen whether the club retailer's efforts to compete with the existing PBM businesses of companies like CVS Caremark, Walgreens and Walmart will be successful, and analysts like Citi's Deborah Weinswig appear skeptical that they will. But whatever the outcome, it's clear that Costco is looking to compete in a bigger way.

January 18, 2013

Duane Reade experienced nearly a 20% boost in sales of its private label hosiery thanks to a seven-week social media campaign dubbed “Show Us Some Leg,” according to a published report.
The important takeaway here is that the success of this campaign speaks to the overall importance of engaging consumers beyond the walls of the bricks-and-mortar store.

January 11, 2013

Last week in a much anticipated move, Cerberus Capital Management acquired 877 supermarkets from Supervalu for $100 million in cash and the assumption of $3.2 billion in debt. Also part of the deal, a Cerberus-led investor consortium will provide the remaining Supervalu business an influx with the purchase of up to 30% of Supervalu stock at a purchase price of $4 per share.

Following the transaction, Supervalu will be a $17 billion business comprised mostly of its distribution business, which will represent 47% of revenues, Save-A-Lot (25%) and 191 regional supermarkets (28%).

January 11, 2013

Walgreens' Arkansas Payment Improvement Initiative aims to create a more patient-centered and cost-efficient payment system for the retailer's home state.

The latest move by Walmart is as sure an indication as any that health care is becoming less about fee-for-service and more about basing compensation on ratings derived from patient outcomes.

January 11, 2013

Walgreens chief Greg Wasson had a new vision to share with the pharmacy operator's faithful shareholders for 2013. It was a vision that firmly placed the Express Scripts dispute in the rear-view mirror and refocused on the road ahead that includes expanding the role of pharmacy and even what it means to be a U.S. pharmacy operator with its acquisition of Alliance Boots.

Two major announcements were made in the wake of the shareholders meeting, both of which were identified by DSN as two of the top six big trends to watch through 2013. Walgreens reiterated its commitment to fostering an omnichannel experience for its shoppers and, a day after the shareholders meeting, Walgreens became the only retail pharmacy operator to partner on three Accountable Care Organizations.

January 4, 2013

After 20 years at the helm, Safeway CEO Steve Burd last week announced his retirement to spend more time with family and pursue interests in health care.

January 4, 2013

The National Community Pharmacists Association last week noted that language in the "fiscal cliff" legislation that averted the worst of potential tax consequences for individuals nonetheless had a chance to negatively impact diabetics who buy their supplies from their local community pharmacy.

January 4, 2013

Following the "People’s Choice Awards," Walgreens is celebrating its involvement in the awards by hosting “Night at the W” events at its stores nationwide on Jan. 10.

The “Night at the W,” which leverages the expertise of its beauty advisers, is yet another example of how the pharmacy retailer is elevating the beauty experience at mass. And the event is an ideal way to promote its beauty advisers.

December 28, 2012

Half of the primary care work-site health centers managed by Walgreens Employer Solutions Group have received AAAHC accreditation as patient-centered medical homes, with plans to have all of the company’s employer-based primary care centers accredited in the first half of 2013.

The news speaks to the quality of care delivered at Walgreens work sites, and as employers increasingly look for ways to curb healthcare costs and boost employee productivity, one can expect to see greater growth of such facilities going forward.

December 28, 2012

Rite Aid last week posted a third quarter profit of $61.9 million, marking the first time Rite Aid has been back in the quarterly black since June 2007. The quarterly report beat analyst expectations as the generic wave and retention of Express Scripts customers helped drive better-than-expected adjusted EBIDTA.

It's certainly a timely Christmas gift that Rite Aid delivered to those shareholders who believed in the Pennsylvania pharmacy operation when it's stock hovered around $1 per share; in the week following the third quarter conference call Rite Aid's stock price was up some 40%.

December 28, 2012

Walgreens executives last week were upbeat looking ahead to calendar 2013, identifying the company's growing base of Well Experience format stores, the expanding role retail pharmacy plays in the delivery of health care and the promise to be realized through creating a global pharmacy operator as the three primary reasons lifting their spirits.

A new, fast-growing loyalty card program and closure to the company's nine-month separation from Express Scripts' pharmacy network are working wonders on improving the perception of Walgreens' future potential. A fortified faith in Walgreens' full potential never left the company's executive suite, of course. It's Wall Street analysts that still need a little convincing, and that may be coming along as well.

December 14, 2012

A new survey by Wolters Kluwer Health indicated that a large majority of consumers think it's a good thing that more individuals are taking a larger and more active role in their own health care.

This should come as no surprise, as recent years have seen tremendous growth in things like electronic personal health records, mobile apps and use of social media. It also ties in with trends in the devolution of health care to the consumer level, such as retail clinics.

December 14, 2012

On Thursday, analysts and CVS Caremark executives gathered in New York City to attend the company’s annual Analyst Day meeting.

CVS Caremark has come a long away from its roots as a go-getting New England-based regional player, and the pharmacy healthcare giant continues to prove the success of its unique integrated model. The role of CVS Caremark — and community pharmacy at large — in today’s healthcare system couldn’t come at a more critical time.

December 14, 2012

Inc. magazine named Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy as one of the country's top 100 job creators as part of the business magazine's inaugural Hire Power Awards. Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy cracked the list at No. 94 with the addition of 233 new positions over the past three years and came in at No. 5 in the company's home state of Michigan.

But though the company comes in at No. 94 on 'Inc.''s list, measured up against the likes of IT Services juggernaut GoDaddy.com or the rapidly growing fast-food chain Colorado Smashburger, Diplomat Specialty is a bellwether all the same — specialty pharmacy is and will be the catalyst for growth in the retail pharmacy industry.

December 7, 2012

Authorities in Massachusetts are looking to tighten regulations on compounding pharmacies as the state health department announced some changes to the makeup of the Massachusetts Board of Pharmacy and sent cease-and-desist notices to three compounding pharmacies for alleged violations.

Retail pharmacies looking to get into sterile compounding and exercise greater control over that supply chain — as Walgreens did last month when it bought an independent specialty compounding pharmacy in Indiana — should take note because it seems there will be increased scrutiny on the practice following a nationwide outbreak of meningitis linked to alleged unsanitary conditions at the Framingham, Mass.-based New England Compounding Center.

December 7, 2012

Walgreens last Wednesday reported November sales of $5.9 billion, a decrease of 3.9% versus the same period last year.

December 7, 2012

CVS Caremark is looking to acquire an 80% stake in Onofre, the eighth-largest pharmacy chain in Brazil, according to published reports.

Are you ready for the globalization of drug store retailing? DSN is. And we expect it to continue. Why? That's where the Rx growth is. Expect more of these deals. Where? Follow the money (i.e., emerging markets where Rx growth is still in high single to low double digits).

November 30, 2012

A recent survey found a significant increase in the number of U.S. adults who have visited a retail clinic in recent years. The growth is attributed to a rise in the number of clinics nationwide, as well patients’ positive response to the convenience and lower cost of such clinic locations.

The findings come as little surprise and one should expect to see increased usage going forward. Why? Because health care is becoming increasingly consumer-centric as patients not only battle rising health care costs but also a growing shortage of primary care physicians. Patients want — need — convenient, high-quality health care services that are also cost effective. Convenient care clinics are increasingly illustrating the important role they play within the U.S. healthcare system.

November 30, 2012

A new report shows that drug makers lose nearly $200 billion per year from medication nonadherence, illustrating that it's not just the healthcare system overall that loses when people don't take their medications properly.

This just goes to show the important role that pharmacy retailers have in helping to promote medication adherence by having pharmacists play an active role in patients' health care through services like medication therapy management.

November 30, 2012

It's only fitting that Walgreens placed its 8,000th store opening among the stars of Hollywood. It's not only a stellar achievement in and of itself, but the company's latest flagship store — and the first one on the West Coast — continues to emphasize Walgreens' out-of-this-world approach to drug store retailing.

Except you can't really call it drug store retailing, anymore. Not really. Because the other reason Hollywood is an appropriate backdrop to Walgreens' West Coast flagship is the fact that Walgreens has effectively transformed its big-box stage into a retail theater where each new grand location portrays a little of that flair in each new urban setting. That was evident in its second flagship store along Broadway in New York with its museum chronologically picturing those who have been honored in the Canyon of Heroes. And it's also evident in the second placement of a Walgreens' flagship store in Chicago.

November 21, 2012

During Fred's third-quarter earnings call, the company told analysts it was testing a new, smaller format drug-dollar store concept and that its partnership with Diplomat was creating new clinical capabilities for the chain, which still sees pharmacy as a major growth opportunity.

The more Memphis-area patients continue singing those Delta blues, the more they're going to be scuffling through Fred's doors in their blue suede shoes. Effectively serving that economically-challenged patient is just one reason why Fred's third-quarter call this week should resonate across the industry. Because Fred's is in pursuit of two trends that are critical to its future — a specialty pharmacy solution that gains Fred's entree into the only growth-game in pharmacy, and an answer to its big-box competitors with a small-footprint, dollar-store/pharmacy hybrid.