PHARMACY

Fred’s looking toward accelerating pharmacy growth in 2013

BY Michael Johnsen

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Fred’s Super Dollar on Thursday reported sales for the five-weeks ended Feb. 2 were up 31% to $173.6 million. Comparable store sales were up 28.6%. 

On an adjusted basis, which eliminates the one week ended Feb. 2, sales were up 2% and same-store sales were flat, Fred’s added. 

"This improvement reflected the initiatives we have put in place in tobacco, programs to drive higher ticket amounts, and continued increases in pharmacy script growth," reported Bruce Efird, Fred’s CEO. "We look forward to the new year and our expansion in specialty pharmacy and clinical services, an acceleration of pharmacy acquisitions, our expansion of new auto and hardware product initiatives, and a roll out of new concepts, such as the smaller drug and dollar store," he added. "Considering Fred’s growth prospects in the rapidly changing pharmacy industry, along with our new general merchandise initiatives, we believe there are significant opportunities to drive higher sales and profits in 2013."

On an unadjusted basis, Fred’s also reported fourth quarter total sales increased 7% to $533.5 million. Comparable store sales increased 4.8%. And total sales for the 53-week fiscal 2012 increased 4% to $2 billion and full-year same-store sales were up 1.1% on an unadjusted basis. With the one week ended Feb. 2 extracted, adjusted total sales were flat for the fourth quarter and increased 2% for fiscal 2012. Comparable sales were down 2.8% for the fourth quarter and down 1.4% for the full year. 

During January, Fred’s opened two new stores, closed one store and closed one Xpress pharmacy. For the year, Fred’s added a net total of 12 new locations, consisting of 20 new stores and 6 new Xpress pharmacies, which was offset by the closing of 14 company-owned stores. The company also opened 24 new pharmacies in 2012 and closed 3, for a net addition of 21 pharmacies during the year.


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PHARMACY

FDA approves Sandoz antibiotic

BY Alaric DeArment

PRINCETON, N.J. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a generic antibiotic made by Sandoz, the drug maker said Wednesday.

Sandoz, the generics arm of Swiss drug maker Novartis, announced the approval and launch of clindamycin in 5% dextrose in minibag form, the first generic version of Pfizer’s Cleocin Phosphate in Dextrose 5%.

Sales of the branded version were $52.2 million in 2012, according to IMS Health.


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Reports: Senators introduce bill to ban ‘pay-for-delay’ settlements

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Republican and Democratic senators have re-introduced legislation that would ban patent settlements between branded and generic drug companies that critics allege violate antitrust laws, according to published reports.

Reuters reported that Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, were sponsoring a bill to ban so-called "pay for delay" settlements. Critics of such settlements say they delay patients’ access to cheaper generic drugs, while drug makers say the settlements are often necessary to allow launch of generics ahead of branded drugs’ loss of patent protection, and that delaying generic launch beyond patent expiry would be illegal anyway.

When a generic drug company wishes to challenge a branded drug’s patent, it will usually file a regulatory approval application with the Food and Drug Administration containing a paragraph IV certification, a legal assertion that the drug’s patent is invalid, unenforceable or not at risk of infringement. In response, the branded drug company will generally sue the generic company. The companies may then settle the case before the court and make a deal that allows the generic company to launch ahead of patent expiration but requires it to wait for a period of time. While the "pay" part of the "pay-for-delay" deal may include a cash payment to the generic drug maker, it most often involves an agreement by the branded drug company not to launch a so-called authorized generic — essentially the branded drug marketed under its generic name at a reduced price — during the legally mandated 180 days following FDA approval in which the generic product can compete exclusively with its branded counterpart.

Branded and generic drug makers alike have strongly opposed attempts to ban the patent settlements, saying that requiring cases to go to trial will only further delay the availability of generics. Industry opposition has contributed to the defeat of previous bills to ban them, Reuters noted.


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