CVS Caremark to stop selling tobacco in all store locations

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — In support of the health and well-being of its patients and customers, CVS Caremark announced on Wednesday that it will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products at its more than 7,600 CVS/pharmacy stores across the United States by Oct. 1, making CVS/pharmacy the first national pharmacy chain to take this step. It also will undertake a robust national smoking-cessation program that will launch in the spring.

"As the first national pharmacy chain to step up and make this change, this decision really underscores our role in the evolving healthcare marketplace," Larry Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Caremark, told reporters Wednesday morning. "Tobacco products have no place in a setting where healthcare is delivered." CVS Caremark will not extend its tobacco ban to other less-than-healthy products, however, as the chain will continue to sell salty snacks and chocolate, and beer and wine where applicable. 

"When you look at — whether it’s a bar of chocolate, a bag of chips, a glass of wine — those items taken in moderation or used occasionally do not have the [health impact] that the occasional use of tobacco does. There’s nothing that’s safe about tobacco," Merlo said.

To watch the complete announcement:

Coinciding with this announcement, a Journal of the American Medical Association Viewpoint article published Thursday morning details the importance of this decision in light of the expanding role of the pharmacy industry in health care delivery.  The article is co-authored by Steven A. Schroeder, director, Smoking Cessation Leadership Center, University of California, San Francisco, and CVS Caremark chief medical officer Troyen Brennan.

"Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health," Merlo said. "Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose."

Merlo continued, "As the delivery of health care evolves with an emphasis on better health outcomes, reducing chronic disease and controlling costs, CVS Caremark is playing an expanded role in providing care through our pharmacists and nurse practitioners. The significant action we’re taking today by removing tobacco products from our retail shelves further distinguishes us in how we are serving our patients, clients and healthcare providers and better positions us for continued growth in the evolving healthcare marketplace."

"This spring we’ll launch a robust national smoking cessation program with the goal of helping millions of Americans quit smoking and get healthy," Helena Foulkes, president of CVS/pharmacy, told reporters. "As a retail pharmacy and a pharmacy benefit manager and a retail clinic, the tools we offer our patients and customers will be critical in helping them make smoking cessation a realistic choice for them," she said. "We have an opportunity to bring these programs to our clients and health plans as well. So part of our efforts this spring will be to introduce these smoking cessation programs to our clients."

The program is expected to include information and treatment on smoking cessation at CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic along with online resources. The program will be available broadly across all CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic locations and will offer additional programs for CVS Caremark PBM plan members to help them to quit smoking.

"Every day, all across the country, customers and patients place their trust in our 26,000 pharmacists and nurse practitioners to serve their healthcare needs," Foulkes said. "Removing tobacco products from our stores is an important step in helping Americans to quit smoking and get healthy."

In the JAMA Viewpoint published online Thursday morning, Brennan and co-author Schroeder wrote, "The paradox of cigarette sales in pharmacies has become even more relevant recently, in large part because of changes in the pharmacy industry. Most pharmacy chains are retooling themselves as an integral part of the healthcare system. They are offering more counseling by pharmacists, an array of wellness products and outreach to clinicians and healthcare centers. Perhaps more importantly, pharmacies are moving into the treatment arena, with the advent of retail health clinics. These retail clinics, originally designed to address common acute infections, are gearing up to work with primary care clinicians to assist in treating hypertension, hyperlipidemia and diabetes — all conditions exacerbated by smoking."

The move has generated broad support across many healthcare associations, including the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association, the American Pharmacists Association, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Legacy and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Pharmacists are health care providers and we must commit to limiting access to products that are known to cause disease and poor health," stated Thomas Menighan, APhA EVP and CEO.

"CVS Caremark is continually looking for ways to promote health and reduce the burden of disease," Brennan said. "Stopping the sale of cigarettes and tobacco will make a significant difference in reducing the chronic illnesses associated with tobacco use."

Smoking is the leading cause of premature disease and death in the United States, with more than 480,000 deaths annually. While the prevalence of cigarette smoking has decreased from approximately 42% of adults in 1965 to 18% today, the rate of reduction in smoking prevalence has stalled in the past decade. More interventions, such as reducing the availability of cigarettes, are needed.

CVS Caremark’s decision to stop selling tobacco products is consistent with the positions taken by the American Medical Association, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Lung Association and American Pharmacists Association, which all have publicly opposed tobacco sales in retail outlets with pharmacies.

The company stated that its decision to exit the tobacco category does not affect the company’s 2014 segment operating profit guidance, 2014 EPS guidance or the company’s five-year financial projections provided at its Dec.18th Analyst Day. The company estimates that it will lose approximately $2 billion in revenues on an annual basis from the tobacco shopper, equating to approximately 17 cents per share. Given the anticipated timing for implementation of this change, the impact to 2014 earnings per share is expected to be in the range of 6 cents to 9 cents per share. The company has identified incremental opportunities that are expected to offset the profitability impact. This decision more closely aligns the company with its patients, clients and healthcare providers to improve health outcomes while controlling costs, and positions the company for continued growth.

"The $2 billion would represent about 3% of our earnings," Merlo told reporters Wednesday morning. "To be clear this is an investment in our future growth," he explained. "Everyday patients and customers are putting their trust in us to help them on their path to better health and removing tobacco products from our shelves is an important step that further enhances our company purposes and helps us to better meet the needs of healthcare providers and our customers."

But where will CVS’ $2 billion in tobacco product sales go? Dollar store operators Dollar General and Family Dollar both introduced tobacco products into their stores in the past 18 months, which means they, along with the convenience store sector, may benefit the most from the CVS decision as their customers go somewhere else for their tobacco purchase, suggested Sterne Agee analyst Chuck Grom. "While we don’t have any specific insights, it’s probable that other drug store chains, such as Walgreens and Rite Aid, may follow the lead of CVS in removing tobacco to support the health and wellbeing of its customers. If such developments ultimately manifest – the potential comp life would only augment," Grom said.



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Feb-15-2014 10:21 am

It's about time, CVS. Independent pharmacies across the country opted to stop selling tobacco products 30 years ago, because they recognized the link between tobacco and health issues, and put their patients health before their bottom line. Now CVS follows suit and it makes the national news. What took them so long?

Feb-06-2014 11:11 am

As a former CVS pharmacist and now retired, I find it impressive that CVS will possibly hurt their bottom line by having the balls to STOP tobacco sales. It is totally illogical for any health care entity to stock and sell tobacco. It is the MOST significant detrimental health negative that is so easily AVOIDED mostly by NEVER touching tobacco of any kind. Unfortunely, it begins mostly as a teen thrill injected by peers. The sale of tobacco to any person under say 18 years old should be a crimnal act and any such retailer be fined and punished accordingly. Cancers, (lung, oral ,Throat and other metastatic forms) are just the beginning. Emphysema, heart damage, blood pressure issues, skin aging and the dangers of second hand smoke (which is more toxic than that inhaled) affects family members (CHILDREN) as well as any one close by. Wise up folks, and STOP the addiction, and save your life, but better yet, never begin! RxJiMac/Atlanta

J.Bradley says:
Feb-05-2014 10:55 am

Kudos to CVS for Helping people on their path to better health!

Feb-05-2014 10:29 am

I won't be a bit surprised if CVS isn't the first pharmacy chain that wants on the band wagon for pharmacist dispensed medical marijuana down the road, state by state or nationally, if that day ever comes.



Salix Pharmaceuticals introduces Rx topical foam to treat a form of inflammatory bowel disease

BY Michael Johnsen

RALEIGH, N.C. — Salix Pharmaceuticals last week announced that the Food and Drug Administration has accepted for filing a new drug application for Budesonide 2 mg Rectal Foam for the induction of remission in patients with active mild to moderate distal ulcerative colitis extending up to 40 cm from the anal verge.

The FDA has issued an action date of Sept. 15, 2014 under the Prescription Drug User Fee Act. 

“Patients with distal ulcerative colitis, also known as proctitis or proctosigmoiditis, are often difficult to treat and present the most challenging subset of patients given the limitations of available treatment options," stated Bill Forbes, EVP medical and research and development and chief development officer for Salix. "For these patients with disease limited to the rectum and sigmoid areas of the colon, treatment with currently approved oral therapies is often ineffective due to insufficient distribution of active drug to the distal colon," he said. "Distal ulcerative colitis remains an unmet medical need, and we believe the availability of a rectally administered corticosteroid such as budesonide foam may help overcome limitations of existing products to treat this condition.”

Budesonide is a high potency corticosteroid that was developed to minimize the systemic adverse consequences of classic corticosteroids, such as hydrocortisone, which have higher levels of systemic absorption. In several large studies budesonide 2 mg rectal foam was highly effective in the treatment of distal ulcerative colitis. Clinical trials suggest that the budesonide foam formulation demonstrates improved reach (or spread) and rapid distribution of budesonide to the sigmoid colon and the rectum, without the difficulties and inconvenience associated with retention of enema formulations. These trials also suggest that the foam provides more immediate and targeted therapy for distal ulcerative colitis than is available with oral therapies. 

The oral foam formulation for rectal administration was designed to improve both the patient’s ability to retain the drug in the rectum following administration as well as distribution of the active drug to the rectum and sigmoid colon.  

Salix licensed this budesonide foam product from Dr. Falk Pharma. The product was approved in Europe in 2006 and is marketed in Europe by Dr. Falk Pharma.


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Chiesi Farmaceutici S.p.A. acquires specialty pharmaceutical company Cornerstone Therapeutics

BY Michael Johnsen

CARY, N.C. — Cornerstone Therapeutics, a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on commercializing products for the hospital and adjacent specialty markets, on Monday announced that its stockholders have approved, at a special stockholder meeting, the previously announced merger agreement, under which Chiesi Farmaceutici S.p.A. will acquire all of the outstanding common shares of Cornerstone for $9.50 per share in cash.

Votes for the adoption of the merger agreement totaled approximately 22.5 million shares, or 83.7% of Cornerstone’s outstanding shares of common stock. 

Approximately 4.4 million shares, or 50.2% of the shares not owned by Chiesi or any of its subsidiaries or by any officer or director of Cornerstone, voted for the merger.




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