Twitter, social media amplify RxImpact conversation
This year at the 5th Annual NACDS RxImpact Day, the voice of community pharmacy reached far beyond the office walls of U.S. senators and representatives as community pharmacy advocates — and even members of Congress — took to Twitter, Facebook and other social media.
"It definitely seemed that we had even better engagement in using Twitter at NACDS RxImpact this year than I think we’ve had at pretty much any other NACDS event," said Chris Krese, SVP marketing, communications and media relations for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.
With about 50 tweets from 20 individuals, the rise in social media use during this year’s NACDS RxImpact was largely organic.
"Really, for the most part, we had completely unprompted involvement. … They were tweeting where they were and that they were about to get on the plane to come to advocate for pharmacy in Washington, D.C.," said Krese. "And I think the more people saw that other people were [tweeting], it just started to take on a life of its own."
Not only did Twitter activity among NACDS members experience an uptick, but there also was a rise in activity among chain pharmacy representatives.
"In prior years, the pharmacy students who were participating in the event were very active on Twitter. What we started to see even more this year is that some of the chain representatives who were advocating on Capitol Hill were more active on Twitter this year," Krese said.
Krese said that Facebook also experienced a good deal of activity as people responded to posted photos of the event, and NACDS also developed a Flickr photo feed to share photos of the meetings.
NACDS preps for TSE
As the Total Store Expo draws near, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores has put together a checklist to help industry members gear up for a successful event.
TSE, which marks a new concept for trading partners, will combine the Marketplace Conference, the Pharmacy and Technology Conference and the Supply Chain and Logistics Conference into one mega trade show held Aug. 10 to 13 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas.
"It is going to allow for multiple conversations just having supply, front end or consumer goods, and pharmacy and technology there. In one conversation you can actually address all four of those areas," said Jim Whitman, SVP member programs and services at NACDS. "We’re excited that so many people [are] joining us in what we really believe will be a very innovative way of doing business as we move forward."
At press time, TSE was nearly 90% sold out with more than 40 first-time companies.
Slow and steady: CVS’ entry into Brazil a slow dance, not a samba
It’s official. During its most recent quarterly conference call with analysts, CVS Caremark revealed what many had anticipated: Its acquisition of privately held Brazilian drug store chain Drogaria Onofre was complete.
The move is not financially material to CVS Caremark, but it does mark its first foray into the international drug store space. The 44-store chain is the eighth-largest drug store chain in Brazil and, according to published reports, posted gross revenue of R$1.2 billion (Brazilian reals) in 2011.
"As you know, we have been exploring opportunities for possible international expansion, and we have said many times that our approach would be measured and we would exercise financial discipline. We believe this acquisition is a great example of that strategy and action," Larry Merlo, CVS Caremark president and CEO, told analysts.
CVS Caremark’s measured approach to international expansion is quite different from the approach taken in 2012 by rival Walgreens, when it acquired a 45% stake in the U.K.’s Alliance Boots — with the option to acquire the remaining 55% stake over the next three years — in a move that thrusts it into 25 countries, including several high-growth pharmacy markets in Europe and Asia.
"Onofre has a strong reputation in the marketplace. They do a great job in tailoring their stores to market to different customer segments. And we view Brazil as an attractive market," Merlo told analysts.
In Brazil, pharma sales from 1996 to 2012 have grown at an approximately 12.5% CAGR, with generics up 25%, Citi Research analyst Deborah Weinswig stated in a recent research note.
"Growth in the market has been driven by the combined impact of declining unemployment, growth in real incomes and the aging of the population. Additionally, there has been an increase in individuals covered under healthcare plans, and the number of available insurance plans has recently doubled," Weinswig stated.
There currently are about 3,760 drug stores in Brazil, and the top five chains have roughly 30% of total sales — the top 10 chains represent 34% of sales — Weinswig noted, and independents account for 48% of sales.
Past consolidation in Brazil has been mostly local, and CVS Caremark is the first foreign company to enter the Brazilian drug store space. And it is speculated that the move by CVS could spawn the next big round of consolidation. In fact, Merlo indicated that there could be other opportunities for the company in Brazil.
"I think one of the other keys for us is the market is recessive to chain pharmacy. Chains are pretty prevalent in the Brazil market, but at the same time, it’s still fragmented. I think the largest player has about a 9% share," Merlo told analysts. "So we see the opportunity for growth and, … there may be other opportunities acquisition-wise as we move down the road."