Focus on the loyalty card as the definitive barometer of pharmacy success, not won/lost ESI patients
DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens last Wednesday reported November sales of $5.9 billion, a decrease of 3.9% versus the same period last year. However, the company also noted it had enrolled 38 million customers for its new loyalty card program, which debuted in September.
And while much of the discussion around Walgreens’ performance over this past year has been focused on the chain’s exit and subsequent return to Express Scripts, it’s a little unrealistic to look at Walgreens’ monthly comps right now and measure the chain’s success in getting those patients back. (Incidentally, about 40% of those customers have come back to the Walgreens pharmacy camp, speculated Credit Suisse research analyst Ed Kelly.) For example, in the comparable year-ago period Walgreens was still a part of the Express Scripts network. And last year results didn’t have the significant drag of a major hurricane that interrupted operations of a number of stores for the better part of a week, either.
Better apple-to-apple comparisons will come at the end of January 2013, when you can measure the performance of a Walgreens fresh out of the Express Scripts network to a Walgreens folded back into that network. But even those comparisons won’t tell the full story, because Walgreens at the end of January 2013 will have well more than the 38 million enrolled loyalty card members that they have now. And while it may be early days for Walgreens’ loyalty card program as compared to the offers from Rite Aid or CVS Caremark, you can’t discount the influence those 38 million-plus best customers will have on performance on go-forward. It’s the experience differentiator that will help Walgreens — and others — compete with value-oriented retailers and a still-weakened consumer.
Loyalty cards are also the common denominator that gives each of the big three drug channel retailers the confidence that they can capture the same patient.
What do you think will be the big experience differentiator going forward? Is it loyalty cards, or is it something else? And between the big three, who has the inside bead on keeping their patients coming back for more? Post a comment below!
Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy named one of nation’s top job creators
FLINT, Mich. — Inc. magazine has named Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy as one of the country’s top 100 job creators, the privately owned company said.
Diplomat was named in the magazine’s inaugural Hire Power Awards, the winners of which are listed in the December/January issue. Winners came from categories including health care, marketing, staffing, telecommunications, consulting and technology, and selections were based on reviews of hiring statistics from 2008 through 2011. Diplomat created 233 jobs during that period, particularly since April 2010, with plans to add more than 1,000 jobs in life sciences in five years.
"We want Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy to be the largest, most sought-after employer in the Flint area," Diplomat CEO Phil Hagerman said. "The agreement announced this week by Exelixis that Diplomat will serve as the exclusive specialty pharmacy for the new [Food and Drug Administration]-approved cancer drug Cometriq is the most recent example of how our company growth has been fueled in large part by developments in the specialty drug market."
Mass. health department reorganizes pharmacy board, sanctions three compounding pharmacies amid meningitis outbreak
BOSTON — The state health department in Massachusetts has made changes to the state’s pharmacy board and leveled sanctions against three pharmacies in the wake of a nationwide meningitis outbreak traced to a compounding pharmacy in the state, the department said.
Massachusetts Department of Public Health interim commissioner Lauren Smith said Thursday that the department had appointed to the Massachusetts Board of Pharmacy Southcoast Health System VP and chief quality officer Patrick Gannon; Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts senior director of performance improvement innovations Jane Franke; and Beaumont Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center executive director Edmund Taglieri. Gannon and Taglieri are replacing Sophia Pasedis and George Cayer, respectively, whose terms have expired, while Franke is filling a vacant seat on the 11-member board.
"These respected healthcare professionals will use their experience to bring change to the Board of Pharmacy to enhance our oversight of this industry," Smith said. "We expect additional changes to the board after the Commission on Pharmacy Compounding issues its recommendations to Gov. [Deval] Patrick at the end of the month."
The change comes in the wake of a nationwide meningitis outbreak traced to contaminated supplies of the injectable steroid methylprednisolone acetate made at the Framingham, Mass.-based New England Compounding Center. As of Monday, the outbreak had sickened 541 people and resulted in 36 deaths in 19 states. A Food and Drug Administration inspection in October found widespread unsanitary conditions at the NECC, and there have been calls from FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg and members of Congress for increased federal oversight of compounding pharmacies.
The Massachusetts health department said the state’s commission on compounding had been meeting regularly to look at best practices in other states and explore changes to address what it called the "regulatory gray area" surrounding compounding pharmacies.
In addition to the changes in the board, Gov. Patrick instructed the pharmacy board to begin checking pharmacies that produce sterile injectable medications and had already inspected more than a dozen. In particular, problems had been identified at three pharmacies: OncoMed Pharmaceuticals received a cease-and-desist notice due to issues with the storage of chemotherapy drugs, but the board was working with the company to resolve them; a partial cease-and-desist notice was sent to Pallimed Solutions in Boston to halt the production of sildenafil citrate, the active ingredient in Pfizer’s erectile dysfunction drug Viagra that is also used to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension, because inspectors had found improper components used to prepare and distribute the drug; The Whittier Pharmacist received a partial cease-and-desist notice due to violations in its sterile compounding operations.