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Duane Reade shopping app updated, incorporates integration of iBeacon

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK — Duane Reade on Tuesday released the first update to its app for iPhone including the integration of iBeacon for 10-select Duane Reade locations active as of May 1. 

“The Duane Reade app plays an integral role in our omnichannel customer engagement strategy,” stated Calvin Peters, PR/digital communications manager for Walgreens. “Mobile interaction is at the core of our social media success as mobile and social are intrinsically linked; the addition of these new 2.0 features, as well as the integration of iBeacon technology, will continue to fuel our digital customer experience strategy, as we strive to push forward our New York Living Made Easy mantra," he said. "It is incredibly important for Duane Reade to be where our customers are, including on their smart mobile devices. This update aligns with our goal to provide them with tools, programs and category specific consumer-generated media that offer relevant convenience, including trusted product and service insights.”

This update significantly adds to the existing features in the Duane Reade iPhone app including: the new Weekly Ads & Coupons, Pill Reminder, DR Walk-In, Preferred Store, Shopping List, Steps and QuickPrints from Instagram. The app update is part of Duane Reade’s commitment to foster greater customer engagement with its value-added loyalty offers, including digital and social content initiatives tied to the in-store shopping experience.

According to Duane Reade, the addition of iBeacon to the Duane Reade app vastly improves the customer in-store user experience. iBeacon is a technology Apple introduced with iOS 7 that uses Bluetooth Low Energy and geo-fencing to provide apps a new level of micro-location awareness, such as trail markers in a park, exhibits in a museum or product displays in stores. The inclusion of this technology to the Duane Reade app adds features such as lock screen notifications when initially approaching a select Duane Reade store location, coupon offers based on historical data and product reviews for timely content at the point-of-decision. iBeacon will initially be available at 10 select Duane Reade stores in Manhattan to test the viability of a further rollout.

The 2.0 update is the first in a series of major app announcements planned for Duane Reade in 2014, Peters said. The first wave of releases brings the app up-to-par with the features of the Walgreens’ iPhone app. Through the app’s in-store mode, customers will have quick access to their individual Balance Rewards loyalty program barcode, paperless coupons scorecard indicating the specific number clipped and the savings associated with each, a floor map displaying a bird’s eye view of the store location, product locator for item search and location plotting of the item via the in-store map, scanner options allow for instant product scans revealing detailed item information, mobile coupon clipping for immediate redemption at POS facilitating a seamless value-added experience via Balance Rewards and instant Instagram 4X4 prints directly to a Duane Reade location.

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Alliance Boots acquires Farmacias Ahumada with retail pharmacy operations in Mexico and Chile

BY Michael Johnsen

ZUG, Switzerland — Alliance Boots on Tuesday announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire Farmacias Ahumada.

“This acquisition will give Alliance Boots a major presence in the attractive Latin American market, one of our priority areas for investment," stated Stefano Pessina, Alliance Boots executive chairman. "It is also a further step towards reaching a truly global footprint. The well-positioned retail pharmacy businesses of Farmacias Ahumada and Farmacias Benavides will be great additions to our Group’s unique portfolio of retail, product and service brands around the world. We are confident in the high potential for sustainable growth and value generation that will be unlocked by this acquisition, including the opportunity for consumers in Mexico and Chile to access for the first time leading Boots product brands, such as our renowned skincare and cosmetics ranges.”

The acquisition comprises two main businesses, which together operate more than 1,400 stores, with combined revenues of around $1.4 billion. Farmacias Benavides is the third largest retail pharmacy chain in Mexico with around 1,000 stores, and Farmacias Ahumada is one of the three largest retail pharmacy chains in Chile with around 400 stores.

The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approvals, is expected to complete in the third quarter of 2014.

 

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Bayer, Merck enter into a strategic pharma collaboration in the area of cardiovascular diseases

BY Michael Johnsen

LEVERKUSEN, Germany — In a related transaction to Tuesday morning’s acquisition of Merck’s OTC portfolio, Bayer also agreed to enter into a strategic pharma collaboration in the area of cardiovascular diseases with a focus on sGC modulation. 

There remains high medical need due to various diseases such as certain forms of pulmonary hypertension or heart failure. Novel modulators of the sGC pathway may have the potential to address this need. However, major development efforts and clinical programs are required to fully explore the benefits of these novel compounds. This collaboration brings together two leading companies in this field.

“Merck’s expertise and global presence in the cardiovascular therapeutic area make it a collaboration party of choice for our sGC programs,” stated Bayer CEO Marijn Dekkers. “We truly believe that this collaboration increases our chances of bringing new medicines to more patients, in line with Bayer’s mission ‘Science For A Better Life’”.

“We are now joining forces in the area of sGC modulation to implement a joint development and commercialization collaboration that allows both companies to better explore the medical potential of the novel sGC modulators,” commented Merck’s chairman and CEO Kenneth Frazier. 

The collaboration includes Adempas (riociguat), which is already approved for the treatment of certain classifications of pulmonary hypertension and is being developed in additional life cycle indications, as well as vericiguat, an investigational compound that is currently being developed in two Phase IIb studies in worsening chronic heart failure. Furthermore, the parties agreed that sGC modulators presently in earlier stages of research and development may be included in the collaboration.

Bayer and Merck will equally share costs and profits from the sGC modulators and implement a joint development and commercialization strategy. Bayer will lead the commercialization for Adempas in the Americas while Merck will lead the commercialization outside the Americas. For vericiguat and other potential investigational sGC modulators, Bayer will lead the commercialization outside the Americas while Merck will lead the commercialization in the Americas. Both companies will have the option to co-promote Adempas and the follow-on sGC modulators in each others’ territories. “This collaboration demonstrates our commitment to sGC modulators, allowing us to better explore the potential of these promising cardiovascular compounds,” Brandicourt said. 

Merck will make payments to Bayer of up to $2.1 billion, comprising an up-front payment of $1 billion and sales milestone payments of up to $1.1 billion related to future collective sales of certain collaboration compounds including Adempas. 

 

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