PHARMACY

Cardinal Health extends distribution agreement with Walgreens

BY Allison Cerra

DUBLIN, Ohio — Cardinal Health on Tuesday announced the extension of its distribution agreement to supply pharmaceuticals to Walgreens’ national network of retail pharmacies.

The agreement will prolong into 2013. Additional terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Walgreens is a valued partner for Cardinal Health, and we are proud to continue our long-standing relationship,” said George Barrett, Cardinal Health chairman and CEO. “The new agreement builds on the fundamentals of our existing relationship, and the terms were factored into the fiscal 2011 guidance we provided in October.”

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Annual DSN roundtables draw record crowd

BY Antoinette Alexander


NEW YORK — Walgreens. Costco. CVS Caremark. Rite Aid. H-E-B. Wegmans. Kerr Drug. The list goes on. In all, it was a veritable who’s who of retailing as Drug Store News’ annual Industry 
Issues Summit, which also included a Specialty Pharmacy Roundtable and Diabetes Roundtable, attracted more than 200 attendees — a new attendance record — and featured the most diverse retail panelists to date.


The day-long event was held on Nov. 30 in New York at the New York Athletic Club. During the 12th annual Industry Issues Summit, the eighth annual Diabetes Roundtable and the second annual Specialty Pharmacy Roundtable (presented by DSN and Armada Healthcare), retailer and supplier panelists discussed an array of hot-button issues, including biosimilars, product innovation, SKU rationalization, private label and social media.


“Private brand is obviously a key focus right now, with the economy [and] consumers demanding value. But how does a supplier provide a brand that protects themselves to some extent?” said panelist Robert 
Bobber, divisional merchandise manager of over the counter for Walgreens, when asked about private label during the Industry Issues Summit panel discussion. “There’s really two strategies for private brand: One is to drive profit, and the second is to drive loyalty. So when you can find the solution that drives those two things — profit and loyalty — that is what will help preserve a brand.”


When asked about SKU rationalization, panelist Jason Reiser, VP health and wellness and operations/compliance for Sam’s Club, told attendees, “We weren’t the only ones to SKU [rationalize], but I think we’ve proven that frustrating the customer doesn’t work. … [However], it gets back to true innovation versus line extensions, and that is where the line needs to be drawn.”


This year, Larry Kudlow, CNBC anchor of “The Kudlow Report,” was the guest speaker. He discussed his outlook for the U.S. economy, advocating deficit reduction, deregulation and a strong dollar to promote economic growth.


Retail panelists included Craig Norman of H-E-B, Michael Feuer of Max-Wellness, Vic Curtis of Costco, Reiser of Sam’s Club, Ken Goodgame of Ace Hardware, Bobber of Walgreens, Tony Montini of Rite Aid, Barbara Zamudio of Ulta Beauty, Mike Petocchi of Wegmans, Beth Arkes of Fred Meyer, Leon Nevers of H-E-B, Debbie Krasnow of Giant Eagle, Bill Bergin of Rite Aid, Mark Gregory of Kerr Drug and John Carlo of Wegmans.


Specialty pharmacy provider panelists included Jeanne Ann Stasny of Walmart Specialty Pharmacy, Nick Calla of Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy, Tim Kaplan of Amber Pharmacy, Anthony Davino of Armada Healthcare, Sharon Ferrer of BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy, Robert Roose of Bioscrip, Nick Saraniti of Commcare Pharmacy, Albert Thigpen of CVS Caremark, Phil Hagerman of Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy, John Musil of The Apothecary Shops, Burt Zweigenhaft of OncoMed and Lee Merritt of MedfusionRx.


Sponsors included Teva Neuro­science, Takeda, Endo Pharmaceuticals, 
Catalina Marketing, Alberto-Culver, Novartis, Pharmavite, Hyland’s, Kao Brands, GlaxoSmithKline, Pacific World, 
TABS Group, Sanofi-Aventis, Colgate and Nipro Diagnostics.


See the March 14, 2011, issue of DSN for the complete transcript.

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Kroger, Safeway strike back against Walmart/Humana Part D drug plan

BY DSN STAFF

MINNETONKA, Minn. — Could the economy and the bare-knuckles competition that now defines pharmacy retailing lower the price bar even further for widely used generic drugs? It’s already happening.


Walmart upended the low-price end of the pharmaceutical market four years ago when it launched a widely imitated, much-publicized blanket price point of $4 for many of its generic prescription drugs. Over time, $4 has become the de facto price standard for multisource generics at many outlets. But two major developments in recent weeks threaten to upend the uneasy status quo that has existed in prescription discounting over the past two or three years.


Ironically enough, Walmart itself is the source of the new upheavel. In late September, the company announced a new, steeply discounted prescription drug plan to serve seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D. The plan, launched in partnership with insurance provider Humana and marketed as the Humana Walmart-Preferred Rx Plan, will offer enrollees monthly premiums below $15 and co-payments as low as $2 on some generic prescriptions.


First to fire back directly are two of the nation’s biggest supermarket chains. In late November, Kroger and Safeway announced the launch of a new, low-price prescription plan for Medicare Part D beneficiaries, in partnership with UnitedHealth Group.


Called Pharmacy Saver, the new program is a collaboration among Kroger, Safeway and United’s Prescription Solutions affiliate. It will allow members to purchase some scripts for $2 for 30- and some 90-day supplies. It applies to hundreds of prescription drugs, including 8-of-the-10 generics most commonly used by UnitedHealthcare Medicare plan members.


For Kroger and Safeway, the program, available to Part D recipients in January, marks a direct counterpunch to Walmart’s low-price strategy. On a larger scale, the $2 co-pay could further shift the definition of a low-priced generic in the broader market. It remains to be seen whether the launch of Humana Walmart-Preferred Rx and Pharmacy Saver will trigger more moves among pharmacy chains.

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