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Update: USA Drug icon Stephen LaFrance passes away

BY Michael Johnsen

PINE BLUFF, Ark. — Stephen LaFrance, 71, former owner of USA Drug, passed away Wednesday morning, DSN has learned. 

Additional details were not immediately available, though the passing was unexpected. 

"From opening his first store in 1968, Steve always focused on two things: ‘Take care of your customers’ and ‘Treat your employees right,’" Joe Courtright, former USA Drug president and CEO, shared with DSN. "His motto was ‘Do the right thing.’ And those were certainly words he lived by. He was beloved by his employees."

"Steve was always an honorable man who lived up to his word in all of his engagements with employees, colleagues and vendors," added industry veteran Bob Berman.

According to an obit published by Ralph Robinson & Son Funeral Home,  LaFrance is survived by his wife of 44 years, Linda, along with his sons Stephen Jr. and Jason and daughter Amy. LaFrance has seven grandchildren. 

The funeral service will be held on Saturday, June 8, 2013 at 2 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church of Pine Bluff. There will be a visitation on Friday from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. 

Memorial contributions may be made to the First United Methodist Church of Pine Bluff, PO Box 8003, Pine Bluff, AR 71611, Ralph Robinson reported. 

LaFrance was credited with building a multi-million dollar pharmacy enterprise from $26 in start-up cash, according to a January 2013 profile by Talk Business Arkansas

LaFrance formed the Stephen L. LaFrance Pharmacy, the predecessor to USA Drug, in February 1968. He grew that business into a thriving pharmacy with 144 locations, most notably on the home turf of Walmart. 

The original LaFrance Pharmacy in the mid-1970s became SAJ Distributors, a full-service wholesale distribution company that offered a broad selection of health, beauty and general merchandise to grocery, drug and discount stores. SAJ’s distributed more than 22,000 items to more than 1,000 customers from a four-story, 255,000-square-foot storage facility at its corporate headquarters here.

The first USA Drug store opened its doors in 1984. And two years later LaFrance entered the private-label production business with the formation of Select Brand Distributors. 

Between then and 2012, when Walgreens acquired all USA Drug banners, the Pine Bluff-based chain operated its 144 locations under the retail shingles USA Drug, Super D Drugs, May’s Drug Stores, Drug Warehouse and Med-X Drugs across Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.

LaFrance said the decision to sell the chain — which recorded sales of $825 million in 2011 — to Walgreens was "not only because it is the premier drug store company in [our] industry, but also because Walgreens will continue to provide [our] customers with the service and products they have come to expect."

USA Drug ranked No. 31 on the DSN PoweRx 50, with projected pharmacy sales of approximately $409 million in 2011.

DSN will update this news with additional details as they are made available. 

 

 

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American Association of Nurse Practitioners commends new legislation for improving healthcare access

BY Antoinette Alexander

AUSTIN, Texas — The American Association of Nurse Practitioners on Wednesday commended Gov. Brian Sandoval and Nevada lawmakers for passage of Assembly Bill 170, which provides Nevada patients with full and direct access to nurse practitioner services by right-sizing state regulations.

The Governor signed the measure into law during a late-night session on Monday.

"Enactment of Assembly Bill 170 streamlines and improves health care delivery, providing Nevada with the ability to adapt and respond to the state’s growing healthcare needs. It will also help recruit and retain more nurse practitioners,” stated Angela Golden, president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. "Nevada now keeps pace with 16 other states and the District of Columbia, which offer patients full and direct access to nurse practitioner services and moves into alignment with national recommendations. We urge lawmakers in other states that are considering similar legislation to follow suit and take steps toward closing the gap between the care that nurse practitioners are educated to provide and the care that dated regulations allow them to deliver."

 

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15th annual NACDS Foundation Dinner website now live

BY Antoinette Alexander

ARLINGTON, Va. —The National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation has announced the launch of the website for the 2013 NACDS Foundation Dinner, with a theme that celebrates the event’s 15th anniversary and its forward-looking focus on patient-care research and partnerships.


The website is live at dinner.nacdsfoundation.org. The NACDS Foundation Dinner will be held Dec. 3, at the Hilton New York in New York City.
Playing off of the symbolism of crystal as the traditional gift for a 15th anniversary, the event’s theme for 2013 is “Crystallize the future of patient care.”



“The NACDS Foundation is establishing itself as a committed partner with some amazing leaders in the public health arena, and the NACDS Foundation Dinner helps to make possible exciting collaboration for the good of patient care,” stated NACDS Foundation president Kathleen Jaeger. “This event contributes directly to evidence-based research, and related medication management and educational initiatives, that benefit patients, improve outcomes and advance public health.”



In one example of its timely research, earlier this year the NACDS Foundation announced three research grant awards to evaluate the impact on patient outcomes by the integration of community pharmacy-provided medication management strategies into existing patient-centered care teams, such as medical homes and accountable care organizations.

Also reflective of the NACDS Foundation’s work, this week it will announce the second class of participants in the Faculty Scholars program. The program educates assistant professors from U.S. schools and colleges of pharmacy about designing, implementing and publishing community pharmacy-based patient care research.
 

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