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NACDS appoints Tom O’Donnell as VP federal government affairs

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The chief of staff for Rep. Steve Rothman, D-N.J., is taking on a new role.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores announced that Tom O’Donnell is joining the organization as VP federal government affairs, where he will spearhead the strategic direction for and overall management of NACDS’ federal legislative advocacy program, including serving as a resource and advocate on Capitol Hill and advancing the association’s grassroots and political affairs activities, NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson said.

O’Donnell will begin his new position on July 9 and will report to Carol Kelly, NACDS SVP government affairs and public policy.

"We are thrilled that Tom will soon join NACDS’ highly regarded and highly effective government affairs and public policy team," Anderson said. "Tom’s extensive legislative and political experience position him exceedingly well to serve as NACDS’ chief legislative advocate for community pharmacy. As the face of neighborhood health care, community pharmacy plays a vital role in improving patient health and reducing costs in the healthcare delivery system. With Tom on board, NACDS will further bolster its commitment to ensuring pro-patient, pro-pharmacy policy solutions at the federal level."


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Perrigo wins approval for renal failure drug

BY Alaric DeArment

ALLEGAN, Mich. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a drug for kidney disease made by Perrigo.

Perrigo announced the approval of calcium acetate capsules, a generic version of Nabi Biopharmaceuticals’ Phoslo Gelcaps. The drug is used to treat end-stage renal failure.

Perrigo settled a patent infringement lawsuit concerning the drug last year, though terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Annual sales of the branded version of the drug and generic versions were $95 million, according to Wolters Kluwer Health.


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Rite Aid comps increase 1.1% in May

BY Alaric DeArment

CAMP HILL, Pa. — Rite Aid’s same-store sales increased by 1.1% in May, a lower-than-expected increase that may be due to underlying economic and industry factors.

The results for the five weeks ended June 2 included a 1.3% increase in front-end comps and a 1% increase in pharmacy sales over May 2011. Same-store prescription count increased 2.6%. Total drug store sales for the period increased 0.3% to nearly $2.5 billion, compared with $2.45 billion in May 2011.

Credit Suisse analyst Edward Kelly had projected that Rite Aid’s comps would increased by 2% to 2.5%, thanks in part to continued weakness from Walgreens. Nevertheless, front-end comps were expected to remain "lackluster" due to weak underlying pharmacy traffic for the industry, economic problems, such as decelerating inflation and challenges to consumers and competition from mass merchandise and dollar stores.

Kelly also has projected that pharmacy script growth would increase but remain weak. In mid-May, IMS Health reported that year-over-year script growth only marginally increased, having been roughly flat in April. At the same time, deflation due to generic drug utilization accelerated even as branded drug inflation remained strong, though Kelly noted that generic utilization results in greater gross profit dollars per script.

The growth in comps for the month also failed to meet Guggenheim Partners’ projected growth of 2.2%, but Guggenheim analyst John Heinbockel wrote that the lighter growth would not alter his opinion that Rite Aid would continue to see accelerated EBITDA growth through the end of 2013 due to Wellness+ and other factors.

Results for the 13-week period ended June 2  were somewhat better, with comps increasing 2.5%, including a 2.7% increase in front-end comps and a 2.4% increase in pharmacy comps, as well as a 3% increase in prescription count at comparable stores. Total sales for the period increased 1.8%, to $6.4 billion, compared with $6.3 billion last year.

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