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Bioscrip reports losses in 2009

BY Alaric DeArment

ELMSFORD, N.Y. Bioscrip had revenues of $1.3 billion in 2009, a decline from $1.4 billion in 2008, the specialty pharmacy company said in a financial report Friday.

At the same time, profits for the year were $54.1 million, compared with a loss of $74 million in 2008 that stemmed from a $93.9 million goodwill impairment charge and intangible asset write-off that year.

Sales for fourth quarter 2009 were $341.6 million, compared with $366.6 million in fourth quarter 2008. The company attributed the decline in revenues for the quarter and the year as a whole to declines in lower-margin business resulting from the elimination of the Medicare Competitive Acquisition Program, the termination of organ transplant and HIV/AIDS contracts with United Health Group and an industry-wide AWP settlement.

With exception to the lower-margin business declines, revenues from higher-margin business for the quarter were 7.9% higher than in fourth quarter 2008. Profits for the quarter were $40.7 million, compared with a loss of $76.6 million in fourth quarter 2008 stemming from the impairment charge.

“Our 2009 results reflect the continued success of our strategy, to be the industry’s clinical leader in infusion, oral and injectable technologies and care-management programs,” BioScrip chairman and CEO Richard Friedman said in a statement. “The pending acquisition of [CHS] will enhance our position as the largest independent specialty pharmacy and leading provider of home healthcare services.”

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Walgreens gift cards in demand by American consumers, index finds

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK An independent research and advisory group found that when it comes to gift cards, American consumers want them from one of the largest drug store chains.

The Global Prepaid Exchange found that gift cards from Walgreens were among the top preferences of American adults, according to 2,300 people surveyed in its Gift Card Performance Index. The drug store chain ranked No. 8 on the list.

Dan Horne, professor of Providence College in Rhode Island and the study’s principle investigator, said the high levels of consumer performance result from an interaction between the store and the gift giver’s perception of the tastes of the recipient.

“If a gift card giver really thinks about the kinds of store that a recipient likes, they will certainly make the experience more rewarding,” Horne noted. “Gift cards tend to be effective gifts because they show thought about the type of stores that recipients like, while still promoting a sense of autonomy and choice.”

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United Supermarkets launches NuVal nutritional scoring system

BY Allison Cerra

LUBBOCK, Texas In an effort to aid its customers in making healthy food choices, United Supermarkets is implementing a nutritional scoring system throughout its United Supermarkets, Market Street and Amigos United grocery stores.

NuVal is a ranking system that provides comprehensive nutritional information of foods through a comprehensive scoring system. With the NuVal System currently assisting guests at Market Street’s Colleyville and Frisco, Texas, stores to better food choices, United debuts as the first grocery chain to implement the innovative nutritional ranking system in Texas.

All six of the company’s Dallas-Fort Worth area Market Street stores will feature the NuVal system by mid-March, and the company plans to have all 50 stores outfitted with the new system by the end of the year.

“NuVal’s innovative food scoring system is revolutionizing the shopping experience, and we’re proud to be the first Texas grocer to bring this innovation to our aisles,” said Robert Taylor, EVP and CEO, United Supermarkets.

In addition to the NuVal implementation, United staffs dietitians throughout its stores and serves as one of the founding members of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, whose stated mission is to reduce obesity by 2015. HWCF members already have committed more than $20  million to the joint initiative to raise awareness about the importance of balancing a healthy diet with physical activity.

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