PHARMACY

Kroger building a patient-care powerhouse

BY Jim Frederick

The nation’s largest supermarket chain wants a bigger share of the U.S. pharmacy and wellness market. To get it, Kroger is brandishing a growing arsenal of health and preventive services, and burnishing its image for value and convenience at the prescription counter.

Kroger is the fifth-largest chain pharmacy operator in the United States in number of locations, and filled more than 136 million prescriptions last year, worth approximately $6.9 billion. The chain has added drive-through pharmacies to some 750 of its locations, and opened up and realigned its pharmacies to make them easier for shoppers to access.

“In addition to convenience, our pharmacies strive to provide good value” with a $4 generic pricing program that now includes more than 300 drugs, noted the company. “We also offer 90-day supplies of many of these prescriptions for $10, and we have increased the number of women’s health medications that we offer at discounted prices.”

Kroger also is aggressively growing its menu of pharmacy- and clinic-based health services. Some of its stores now offer a variety of biometric health screenings for cholesterol, diabetes and body fat with rapid blood-test results that can be forwarded to the family physician. Other services include a smoking-cessation program; a 12-week fitness, nutrition and weight-loss program; diabetes education and coaching by registered dietitians, certified diabetes educators and pharmacists with certification in diabetes management; and travel vaccines and adult immunizations. The chain also operates 77 in-store clinics through The Little Clinic, which it purchased in 2010.

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PHARMACY

Genzyme’s board recommends shareholders OK Sanofi offer

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The board of directors of Genzyme unanimously recommended that shareholders accept French drug maker Sanofi-Aventis’ $74-per-share buyout offer, Genzyme said Monday.

Genzyme recently accepted Sanofi’s $20.1 billion offer for the Cambridge, Mass.-based biotech company. Sanofi had sought to buy the company since last July, when it offered $18.5 billion, or $69 per share.

Genzyme specializes in treatments for rare genetic diseases, such as Fabry disease and Gaucher disease. It also is banking on a new multiple sclerosis drug, Lemtrade (alemtuzumab).

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Pharmacy Saver at center of Hy-Vee’s wellness business

BY Alaric DeArment

Few supermarkets make health and wellness as central to their business as Hy-Vee, a West Des Moines, Iowa-based chain.

In December 2010, the chain announced it would become one of a number of retailers — including Kroger and Safeway — to participate in Pharmacy Saver, a new program offered in collaboration with UnitedHealthcare, the country’s largest Medicare Part D insurer. The program was launched, in part, as a response to the Humana Walmart-Preferred Rx Plan, launched in late September 2010.

Pharmacy Saver offers 366 commonly prescribed generic drugs to select Medicare beneficiaries for as little as $2, and is offered on top of Hy-Vee’s generic discount program, which offers generic prescriptions for $4 for 30-day supplies and $10 for 90-day supplies.

Pharmacy Saver adds to Hy-Vee’s growing list of pharmacy offerings, including the chain’s partnership with Omaha, Neb.-based Amber Pharmacy to offer specialty pharmacy services that also would take advantage of Hy-Vee’s ability to offer diet and nutrition services. The service, called Hy-Vee Pharmacy Solutions, offers phone service, personal care coordinators and the option of having specialty medications made available for pickup at a Hy-Vee pharmacy or delivery to a patient’s home, office or other location.

Healthy eating is another area where Hy-Vee has staked out a niche. It marked February as American Heart Month with a special advertising circular that contained nutrition information, shopping tips and heart-healthy recipes from Hy-Vee chefs.

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