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Publix’s metformin offering expands supermarket presence in health care

BY Michael Johnsen

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT Offering free metformin to diabetes patients in the deep South is a lot like setting up shop in the middle of Phoenix and announcing that free water is available to any dehydrated customers. That’s because when you place a map of Publix’s locations on top of a map showing where in the country diabetes is most prevalent, you’ll see that Publix is located in the U.S. diabetes hot spot. So why do it?

(THE NEWS: Publix pharmacies offering free metformin in line with diabetes program debut. For the full story, click here)

Supermarkets covet pharmacy patients because those customers represent more frequent trips, larger marketbaskets and the potential to fold them into medication therapy management programs or other paid services. Leverage that diabetic shopper against the food store and arm them with diabetes-friendly nutrition information, and you are also pushing those shoppers toward higher-margin categories — fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads and the host of premium-positioned products carrying a heart-healthy or diabetes-friendly endorsement.

For pharmacy operators not flying the Publix banner, this has the potential of becoming a new standard for the industry, much in the same way Walmart’s $4 generics program became commonplace across all pharmacy footprints. The first pharmacy in any region to make an offer like this will benefit the most, especially if that pharmacy is successful in capturing and converting those diabetes patients.

For information on diabetes density across the United States, check out http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/DDT_STRS2/NationalDiabetesPrevalenceEstimates.aspx?mode=DBT.

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Rite Aid accepting EBT cards, food stamps at stores

BY Michael Johnsen

CAMP HILL, Pa. Rite Aid on Thursday announced that all Rite Aid pharmacies now accept EBT (electronic benefit transfer) cards and food stamps provided through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

“One-in-eight Americans are receiving food assistance through SNAP, according to the USDA,” stated Brian Fiala, Rite Aid EVP store operations. “With nearly 4,800 Rite Aid stores nationwide offering assorted groceries, accepting EBT cards is just another convenience we can offer to our customers and help make their lives a little easier.”

SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, is administered by the USDA and offers families and individuals at certain income levels financial assistance in purchasing food and beverages. Electronic Benefits Transfer is the electronic system that allows a SNAP recipient to authorize transfer of their government benefits from a federal account to a retailer account to pay for products received. SNAP benefit recipients are issued EBT cards that look like debit cards.

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Report: Food Lion pulls plug on Bloom stores expansion

BY Allison Cerra

RALEIGH, N.C. Food Lion has pulled its plans to bring four Bloom stores to the North Carolina market, according to local reports.

The four stores, which currently are under construction, will become Food Lions instead. Spokeswoman Christy Phillips-Brown said the company will focus on increasing the number of Bloom stores in existing markets rather than expanding into new ones.

The Bloom chain, which was introduced in 2004, has 66 stores, including one opening in Charlotte this week. The stores are known for such tech-savvy features as scanner guns and recipe kiosks.

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