PHARMACY

NACDS gears up for 2011 Marketplace Conference

BY Allison Cerra

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores once again is offering retailers and suppliers the opportunity to meet and work together to bring new, innovative products to market.

NACDS’ 2011 Marketplace Conference will unite industry leaders from drug, food, mass, dollar and specialty retail at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center from June 25 to 28.

This year’s conference will host the cornerstone program "Meet the Market," which pairs targeted suppliers and manufacturers with corresponding retailers for personalized appointments. More than 8,000 appointments are expected to be conducted during this one-day program, NACDS said.

Additional programs include “Meet the Retailer/How to Do Business With …” sessions, a seminar hosted by NACDS and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, and more.

In an effort to enhance attendees’ efficiency and experience, the group recently launched its 2011 Marketplace Web-based mobile application, which can be accessed at m.NACDS.org.

“The NACDS Marketplace Conference is the place for industry leaders to come together to develop key relationships that can further enhance their businesses,” NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson said. “Retailers and suppliers will find opportunities that will not only take place during this four-day conference, but will extend well beyond as they return to their businesses and conduct their day-to-day operations.”

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FDA unveils final cigarette warning labels

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday morning unveiled the nine graphic health warnings mandated by the Food and Drug Administration to appear on every pack of cigarettes sold in the United States and in every cigarette advertisement.

The warnings represent the most significant changes to cigarette labels in more than 25 years and will affect everything from packaging to advertisements. The warnings are required to be placed on all cigarette packs, cartons and ads no later than September 2012.

“These labels are frank, honest and powerful depictions of the health risks of smoking, and they will help,” HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. “These labels will encourage smokers to quit and [will] prevent children from smoking.”

Tobacco use is the leading cause of premature and preventable death in the United States, responsible for 443,000 deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tobacco-related illnesses cost nearly $200 billion every year in medical costs and lost productivity.

The FDA selected nine images from the originally proposed 36 after reviewing the relevant scientific literature, analyzing the results from an 18,000-person study and considering more than 1,700 comments from a variety of groups, including the tobacco industry, retailers, health professionals, public health and other advocacy groups, academics, state and local public health agencies, medical organizations and individual consumers.

For more information on graphic warning labels and high-resolution images, visit FDA.gov/CigaretteWarnings.

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Irvin G says:
Aug-30-2011 07:11 am

Some say banning smoking is the main solution for the growing number of smokers. I agree with the idea. But I think the government still consider the tobacco industry, as this is not just about public health, this is also about business. I guess, the purpose of this new labeling is just to lessen the mounting smokers, I guess so. On the other hand, many companies are not in favor with the idea. 4 of the U.S.'s five tobacco giants sued the federal government August 16 over graphic images on cigarette packaging required by the FDA starting next year.The lawsuit alleges the requirement violates the industry's first amendment rights. Source of article: Tobacco market sues the united states government over graphic warning labels.

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Walgreens to walk away from Express Scripts in 2012

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Tuesday announced the company no longer will participate in the Express Scripts network beginning Jan. 1, 2012, citing unsuccessful renewal negotiations.

"Under the terms proposed by Express Scripts, it would not make good business sense for the strategic direction of our company to continue our relationship with them,” Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson said. “As the largest retail provider in their pharmacy network, we were surprised by Express Scripts’ ultimate stance during our talks, which made it clear to us that they no longer had an interest in continuing a meaningful relationship."

The move eliminates almost 8,000 pharmacies from the PBM’s network, including all Walgreens locations and Duane Reade locations in New York.

Express Scripts processes approximately 90 million prescriptions that are expected to be filled by Walgreens in fiscal 2011, representing approximately $5.3 billion in annual sales.

"We believe the long-term ramifications of accepting Express Scripts’ proposal with below-market rates and minimal predictability for the services we provide would have been much worse than any short-term impact to our earnings," Walgreens EVP and CFO Wade Miquelon said. "All parties involved in providing health care must work together to bring down costs. In a world where cost effectiveness and access to health care is so important, any time an intermediary continues to disproportionately grow its profit per prescription at the expense of the provider delivering the service, the relationship is out of balance."

According to Walgreens, negotiations broke down for several reasons. For example, Express Scripts insisted on being able to unilaterally define contract terms, including what does and does not constitute a branded and generic drug, a factor that would have denied Walgreens the predictability necessary to reliably plan its business operations going forward, Walgreens stated.

The Chicago pharmacy operation also charged that Express Scripts proposed to cut reimbursement rates to “unacceptable levels” below the industry average cost to provide each prescription.

Walgreens stated it had proposed to lower rates on behalf of the Department of Defense’s Tricare program, a pharmacy benefit plan managed by Express Scripts. Under Walgreens’ proposal, the reimbursement cost for the DOD would have been lower than Walgreens’ commercial rates. In addition, Walgreens offered to contract separately with Express Scripts for Tricare beneficiaries, in order to continue providing services for all active and retired military personnel, the company stated.

For all other plans managed by Express Scripts, Walgreens offered to hold rates for a new contract at the level that will be in effect with Express Scripts at year end, which will be lower than current rates.

Moving forward, Walgreens noted that Medicare Part D patients who use its pharmacies will continue to have the option during the open enrollment period near the end of the year to choose a Part D plan that includes Walgreens. In addition, some Express Scripts clients may have the ability to include Walgreens as part of their benefit offering. As a result, Walgreens said it will look for opportunities to have discussions with Express Scripts clients, consistent with their contractual agreements, to ensure their beneficiaries can continue to use the convenience of Walgreens’ nationwide locations.

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