PHARMACY

ESI issue, generic introductions continue to be a drag on WAG pharmacy comps

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Thursday posted April sales of $5.8 billion, a decrease of 3.7% as compared with the same month in fiscal year 2011.

The negative impact on comparable-store prescriptions filled due to no longer being part of the Express Scripts pharmacy network was 10.7 percentage points. Prescriptions processed by Express Scripts comprised 12.6% of Walgreens prescriptions in April 2011. April pharmacy sales decreased 6.3%, while comparable-store pharmacy sales decreased 8.9%. Comparable-store pharmacy sales also were negatively impacted by 3.4 percentage points due to generic drug introductions in the last 12 months and by 0.5 percentage points due to lower incidence of cough, cold and flu.

Pharmacy sales accounted for 62.6% of total sales for the month.

Prescriptions filled at comparable stores decreased 7.8% in April. Calendar day shifts in April, which had one additional Sunday and Monday, and one fewer Friday and Saturday, compared with April 2011, positively impacted prescriptions filled in comparable stores by 0.6 percentage points. On a calendar-adjusted basis, prescriptions filled at comparable stores improved for the third consecutive month, including a 0.9 percentage-point improvement in April compared with March.

“We’ve seen month-to-month improvement in comparable prescriptions filled on a calendar adjusted basis each of the last three months, while our front-end business reflects our continued focus on a more relevant product mix, supported by a new advertising circular strategy that launched in February with continued pricing and promotion discipline,” Walgreens EVP and CFO Wade Miquelon said.

Total front-end sales decreased 0.5%, compared with the same month in 2011, while comparable-store front-end sales decreased 2.2%. Customer traffic in comparable stores decreased 3% while basket size increased 0.8%.

For the combined March/April period that includes the Easter holiday season, comparable store front-end sales decreased by 0.5%, while customer traffic in comparable stores decreased 2.3% and basket size increased 1.8%.

Sales in comparable stores decreased by 6.4%. The effect of calendar day shifts positively impacted total comparable sales by 0.4 percentage points.

Sales for the combined months of March and April 2012 decreased 4% from the same two months in 2011. Comparable store sales for the March/April period decreased 6.7%.

Calendar year-to-date sales were $23.5 billion, a decrease of 2.2% from the same period in 2011.

Walgreens opened seven stores during April, including one relocation, and acquired two stores.

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PHARMACY

8th annual Armada Specialty Pharmacy Summit sees 30% boost in attendance

BY Rob Eder

LAS VEGAS — The 8th annual Armada Specialty Pharmacy Summit officially kicked off here at the Wynn casino resort on Wednesday morning, with early attendance figures showing a 30% increase over 2011, when more than 1,500 executives attended.

The Summit brings together “senior executives and key decision-makers from nearly every leading national, regional and local specialty pharmacy provider,” Armada Health Care CEO Lawrence Irene told Drug Store News. Important, the event also helps bring together what was just a few years ago, still a relatively fragmented industry, also attracting “leading pharmaceutical and biotech companies, managed care organizations, wholesalers and distributors, technology providers and various other affiliated healthcare companies.”

Highlights from this year’s Summit included a state of the specialty pharmacy industry address from Diplomat Pharmacy president and CEO Phil Hagerman, and a special point/counterpoint discussion between former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs under President Barack Obama and Karl Rove, former Deputy Chief of Staff and advisor to former President George W. Bush. Co-moderated by Lawrence Irene and Armada chief strategy officer Thomas Cohn, Gibbs and Rove squared off on topics ranging from the upcoming Presidential election, the state of the economy, the Supreme Court review of the Affordable Care Act and the one-year anniversary of the death of the Osama bin Laden.

Borrowing a Star Trek theme for his comments, Hagerman examined an industry he characterized as growing and evolving at “warp speed,” pointing to several key forces that will shape the next generation of specialty pharmacy, including the emergence of personalized medicine, expanded clinical capabilities and outcomes in line with the rollout of health care reform, education and training and new technology solutions to complement core dispensing capabilities.  Hagerman talked about the importance of providers to “harvest the patient interface,” and not just to mine patient data “but to use it and distill it down to actionable programs that drive outcomes,” he said, both patient outcomes and financial outcomes.

“Phil Hagerman was right on point this morning about the role technology is playing to enhance the services that specialty pharmacies is able to provide,” noted Armada Health Care president Robert Irene. “Armada is proud to be on the forefront of helping our members continue to grow by pioneering solutions for the specialty pharmacy industry.”

Other highlights from this year’s program included special guest speaker Dr. Michio Kaku, world-renowned physicist, best-selling author and star of the Discovery Channel series “How the Universe Works,” talked about the next great wave in technological advancement, which he characterized by three key areas — nanotechnology, biotechnology and artificial intelligence — and how these fields would transform healthcare over the next 50 years. In 2050, Kaku described a world in which doctors will engineer man-made organs and diagnostics in our bathroom mirrors and even in our toilets will provide round-the-clock health monitoring, enabling healthcare providers to diagnose and treat disease years before they actually occur.

The Armada Specialty Pharmacy Summit, which ran through Thursday, also featured a sold-out exhibit hall, with more than 75 exhibitors and sponsoring companies in all. The event also included five live hours of continuing education. IMS Health vp industry relations Doug Long presented a snapshot of the current state of the pharmacy market to help set the table for early arriving attendees, anchoring a bonus day of programming on Tuesday.

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Sandoz acquires Fougera for $1.5 billion

BY Alaric DeArment

BASEL, Switzerland — Novartis’ generics division has acquired Fougera Pharmaceuticals, the company said Wednesday.

Sandoz announced the acquisition of Melville, N.Y.-based Fougera for $1.525 billion in cash. Fougera specializes in generic dermatology drugs, and Sandoz said the acquisition would make it the world’s largest company in the space.

"The addition of Fougera’s leading portfolio further strengthens Sandoz’s differentiated products strategy and improves our ability to help patients and customers around the world by providing easier access to high-quality, affordable dermatological medicines," Sandoz global head Jeff George said. "Fougera brings us valuable technical capabilities in the area of topical dermatological products, particularly in the development and manufacturing of semi-solid forms such as creams and ointments."

Fougera had sales of $429 million in 2011 and employs about 700 people at its two sites in New York, according to IMS Health.


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