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Dollar General affirms commitment to Family Dollar acquisition; reports lift in Q2 sales

BY Michael Johnsen

GOODLETTSVILLE, Tenn.— Dollar General reported it is still committed to its proposed acquisition of Family Dollar as the company reported $4.7 billion in sales for its second quarter ended Aug. 1, representing an increase of 7.5%. Same-store sales were up 2.1%. 
 
"In regards to our proposal to acquire Family Dollar, we remain firmly committed to the acquisition. The financial benefits of our offer to Family Dollar shareholders are indisputable, and the proposed combination would unlock tremendous value for Dollar General shareholders," said Rick Dreiling, Dollar General chairman and CEO. "We continue to believe the potential antitrust issues are manageable and that our transaction as proposed is both superior and achievable."
 
Over the second quarter, Dollar General improved both customer traffic and average ticket for the 26th consecutive quarter, Dreiling reported. "As we enter the third quarter, we are seeing our sales momentum pick back up and expect that momentum to build as our initiatives gain traction with our customers. For the second half of the year, we are well positioned to serve our customers and provide them with the everyday low pricing they count on from us. We remain focused on driving our sales and profitability as we continue to forecast fiscal 2014 adjusted diluted EPS of $3.45 to $3.55 for the full year."
 
Consumables sales continued to increase at a higher rate than non-consumables for the quarter, with the most significant growth related to tobacco products, perishables and candy and snacks. 
 
For the 26-week period ended Aug. 1, net sales increased 7.2% over the comparable 2013 period to $9.3 billion. Same-store sales increased 1.8%. Increases in customer traffic and average transaction amount contributed to the increase in same-store sales. The remainder of the sales increase was attributable to new stores, partially offset by sales from closed stores.
 
For the 2014 fiscal year, Dollar General expects total sales to increase 8% to 9% over the 2013 fiscal year, with same-store sales expected to increase 3% to 3.5%. Adjusted diluted EPS for the fiscal year is expected to be approximately $3.45 to $3.55. 
 
Capital expenditures are expected to be in the range of $450 million to $500 million in 2014. The company plans to open approximately 700 new stores in 2014 and to relocate or remodel, using the company's traditional remodel criteria, approximately 500 stores. In addition, Dollar General plans to complete approximately 400 life cycle remodels.

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Walgreens to upgrade its Duane Reade signage to include the Walgreens brand name

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — Walgreens will be updating its Duane Reade logo with "Duane Reade by Walgreens" on remodeled and new store exteriors as part of normal signage maintenance updates going forward, according to to a Walgreens spokesperson. 
 
The new logo will eventually extend across the entire Duane Reade chain of 236 locations. 
 
Additionally, interior signage featuring “Walgreens Pharmacy” will replace “Powered by Walgreens Pharmacy Network,” the spokesperson noted.  

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New research report highlights benefit of pharmacist medications reviews

BY Antoinette Alexander

TORONTO — Canada's Premiers gathered in Charlottetown for the latest Council of the Federation meeting starting on Aug. 26, and health reform is a key topic. The pharmacy community is urging provinces to consider further expanding pharmacists' role as they can make important contributions to improving patient outcomes, reducing costs and ensuring the sustainability of the health care system. 

According to a new report from Shoppers Drug Mart and CARP, the Sustainable Solutions Report: A Focus on Pharmacist Medication Reviews, one way to make real change now is for governments to support improved access to medication reviews.

These one-on-one medication reviews with a pharmacist can help individuals gain a better understanding of their medications and avoid potential health risks, Shoppers Drug Mart stated. These are particularly important since many aging adults are on multiple medications at once for various conditions — e.g., a new poll of CARP members found one-third are currently taking four to five medications.  Numerous medications can increase the risk of drug therapy problems like adverse drug reactions, negative drug interactions, improper dosing and medication adherence issues.

"This new report includes data demonstrating both the public and medical professionals see the value in pharmacists conducting medication reviews," stated Domenic Pilla, president, Shoppers Drug Mart.  "Most of our provincial governments have begun to recognize the benefits and have instituted funding for this important pharmacy service.  We now have the opportunity to make the eligibility requirements and funding for this service more consistent across the entire country to improve patient care and safety."

The pharmacy community is calling on provincial governments to take a comprehensive and universal approach to the provision of medication reviews.  Where medication reviews are funded, which is 8-out-of-10 provinces, there are significant inconsistencies in the eligibility requirements necessary to have the consultation covered.  And, many individuals may not take advantage of medication reviews because of a low awareness of their availability.

Why are Medication Reviews Important? These reviews provide the opportunity to identify and prevent drug therapy problems, including ADRs and medication non-adherence issues.  A recent survey of Canadian family physicians found more than three quarters of them (79%) believe expanding the role of pharmacists (including offering services like medication reviews) will have an impact on reducing the incidence of ADRs.  This is significant since cases of drug therapy problems are likely to increase as our population ages and more are faced with managing multiple chronic illnesses with numerous therapies.  Today, approximately 5% of all emergency room visits and 6% of all hospital stays are the result of ADRs.  And, medication non-adherence results in an annual cost of Canadian $7 billion to $9 billion to the health care system, and 125,000 unnecessary deaths per year, Shoppers Drug Mart stated.

Where medication reviews are funded, steps need to be taken to establish comprehensive and consistent eligibility criteria since they currently vary greatly by region, the company stated.  For example, Alberta has one of the most comprehensive medication reviews programs — patients must have at least one chronic medical condition from a pre-defined list and be taking three or more prescription medications.  In contrast, British Columbia patients need to be taking five different qualifying medications, but may have two reviews per year.  Seniors from New Brunswick and PEI taking three or more prescription medications for chronic conditions are eligible for one medication review per year whereas, seniors from Saskatchewan must be taking five or more chronic disease medications to be eligible.  The Ontario program is available to any Ontarian taking three or more prescription medications for chronic conditions, and it also offers different assessments based on patient needs (e.g., at-home consultation, diabetes patients, etc.).

And finally, where medication reviews are available, there needs to be a greater emphasis on promoting the service.  Getting the word out will require a joint effort between government, pharmacists and other health care professionals who can refer the service, according to Shoppers Drug Mart.  A new survey of individuals from British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario who recently completed a medication review found the majority (84%) said they heard about the medication review from their pharmacist.

The good news, noted Shoppers Drug Mart, is the same survey found people had an extremely positive experience and would recommend it to others.  One-in-two surveyed strongly agreed medication reviews are beneficial and the majority (85%) were likely to make medication reviews a regular part of managing their medications and their health.  A further 79% said they would recommend medication reviews to others they know who also take prescription medications.
 

 

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