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Several Congress leaders caution Tricare on proposed ESI-Medco merger

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Several Congress leaders last week penned a letter to the Department of Defense’s Director of Tricare Management Activity warning of potential cost increases should the proposed merger between pharmacy benefit managers Express Scripts and Medco Health clear regulatory hurdles.

The joint letter to the department was signed by Reps. Walter Jones, R-N.C.; Joe Courtney, D-Conn.; Mo Brooks, R-Ala.; Bill Owens, D-N.Y.; Martha Roby, R-Ala.; Mike Rogers, R-Ala.; and Austin Scott, R-Ga. The lawmakers noted that the merger would leave the department with just two national PBMs to choose from. "We are concerned these limitations would undermine Tricare’s negotiating leverage and limit Tricare’s ability to demand a quality prescription drug benefit," the Congress leaders stated.

For a copy of the letter, click here.

Separately, the National Community Pharmacists Association recently sent the Pentagon advice as the Department of Defense prepares to bid out a new five-year contract. NCPA suggested Tricare require more transparency from its PBM, such as in setting adequate maximum allowable cost limits for generic drug reimbursement.

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Eukanuba launches Facebook contest

BY Allison Cerra

MASON, Ohio — A Procter & Gamble dog food brand is hosting a Facebook contest that seeks to find one dozen dogs to be featured in an exclusive 2013 calendar.

Eukanuba said dog owners will have an opportunity to enter the contest on Facebook.com/Eukanuba, by “liking” the page and visiting the “Calendar Contest” tab to upload a picture and details about their canine. The contest has 11 entry periods, each with three phases: submission, judging and voting. At the close of each submission period, Eukanuba will select five finalists to represent that category and photos will be posted in an online gallery for voting by Facebook fans. The dog with the most votes in each category will represent their breed and/or age group in the 2013 Eukanuba calendar and receive a one-year supply of Eukanuba dog food.

"All of us at Eukanuba are committed to providing extraordinary nutrition so dogs look and perform at the top of their game, so what better way to showcase our mission than to feature 12 great examples every day of the year," Eukanuba associate marketing director Manuel Miyar said. "When we decided to create a calendar, we thought our fans would jump at the chance to submit their dogs for consideration and getting our Facebook community involved to help choose our calendar canines will make the experience fun for all of us."

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Ingles Markets off to good start

BY Allison Cerra

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Net sales for Ingles Markets rose 5.2% to $918.2 million for the first quarter ended Dec. 24, the retailer announced.

Comparable-store sales, excluding gasoline sales, rose 3.4%, compared with the year-ago period. Average transaction sizes and weekly customer visits also saw boosts, rising 1.3% and 2%, respectively.

Meanwhile, net income saw the biggest gain, increasing 38.5% to $10.6 million, compared with the same period last year. Additionally, basic and diluted earnings per share for the company’s publicly traded Class A common stock were 45 cents and 43 cents, respectively, compared with 33 cents and 31 cents, respectively, for the year-ago period.

Ingles Markets CEO Robert Ingle said that the past holiday season led to a good start for fiscal 2012.

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