PHARMACY

Cardinal sees modest revenue gains in FY 2010

BY Jim Frederick

DUBLIN, Ohio Drug distribution and health services titan Cardinal Health on Thursday reported a modest gain in sales but slackened earnings as the company grappled with a low-inflation economy and shifts in its own business model.

For the full year, Cardinal’s sales rose 3% to $98.5 billion, but revenues in the fourth-quarter were up a more modest 0.5% versus the same period last year, to $24.5 billion. The company’s huge pharmaceutical distribution business accounted for the bulk of sales, rising 2% in fiscal 2010 to $89.8 billion but just 0.2% in the final quarter versus the same period last year, to $22.3 billion.

“I am extremely proud of the progress we made in fiscal year 2010 and the actions we took to shift our growth trajectory and position us for the coming years,” said George Barrett, Cardinal chairman and CEO.

Nevertheless, much of the momentum came from the company’s Medical segment, which grew profits by 11% for the year “while continuing to make key strategic investments,” said the chairman. By contrast, Cardinal’s massive Pharmaceutical division, beset by the lack of pricing inflation on some branded drugs, “fewer significant generic launches,” supply shortages in nuclear pharmacy and other factors, saw a 3% pullback in earnings for the year and a 17% profit decline in the fourth quarter.

Barrett acknowledged the slump in the company’s wholesale pharmaceutical segment. However, he cast the downturn in a positive light, noting that the drug distribution operation “performed considerably better than we anticipated for the full year.”

Barrett credited “execution on major initiatives, disciplined cost controls and some unplanned generic launches” for that performance. “These items largely offset the dampening effect of the actions we took to improve our strategic positioning, the negative impact from the year-over-year comparison of generic launches and the severe supply shortages in nuclear pharmacy,” he added.

“We made great strides in fiscal 2010 with key strategic priorities including our generic sales and sourcing initiatives, working capital optimization and customer-facing information technology improvements – all of which are starting to have a positive impact on the bottom line,” Barrett said. “With the recent renewals of key customers, we have stabilized our base for the next several years. In addition, our recent acquisition of Healthcare Solutions Holding will help accelerate our strategy for specialty pharmaceuticals and contribute to long-term growth for the segment.”

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PHARMACY

Drugstore.com extends partnership with Medco Health Solutions

BY Michael Johnsen

BELLEVUE, Wash. Drugstore.com on Tuesday announced the extension through 2018 of its strategic alliance with Medco Health Solutions.

In 2008, Medco launched its Medco Health Store — an online retail destination offering a wide range of non-prescription consumer health products, including over-the-counter medicines. Drugstore.com supplied technical and operational support for this launch, including fulfillment, distribution and customer care for the Medco-branded online store. Today, the Medco Health Store has grown to include more than 1.4 million registered members.

“Our partnership strategy is a key driver of Drugstore.com’s growth and leverages our leadership in online merchandising and fulfillment in the health and beauty category,” stated Dawn Lepore, CEO and chairman of Drugstore.com. “Medco is a leader in the healthcare and pharmacy industries and we are excited to be extending this relationship.”

“Medco’s partnership with Drugstore.com has enhanced the comprehensive healthcare and pharmacy services we deliver to our clients and their members,” added Tom Moriarty, general counsel, secretary, and SVP, pharmaceutical strategies and solutions, Medco Health Solutions.

In addition to extending the term of the relationship, the economic arrangement between Drugstore.com and Medco has changed, giving Medco more flexibility in pricing and promotions.

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PHARMACY

Pfizer’s Q2 sales get boost from specialty drugs

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Pfizer had a big increase in sales and a modest increase in profits during second quarter 2010, according to a financial statement released Tuesday.

The world’s largest drug maker had $17.3 billion in sales and $2.5 billion in profits, compared with $11 billion in sales and $2.3 billion in profits in second quarter 2009, representing respective increases of 58% and 9%.

The increase in sales included a 165% increase in sales of specialty drugs, from $1.4 billion in second quarter 2009 to $3.8 billion this quarter, stemming from Pfizer’s purchase of Wyeth. Cancer drug sales decreased by 2%, from $355 million to $349 million, while primary care drugs increased from $5.2 billion to $5.9 billion, and established products increased from $1.7 billion to $2.7 billion. Biotech drug sales increased from $10 billion to $15 billion.

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