Walgreens pharmacy comps up 1.2%; Express Scripts, slow flu season are headwinds
DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Monday reported November sales of $6.1 billion, an increase of 4.2%, compared with the same month in fiscal year 2011. Sales in comparable stores increased 1.8%.
Total front-end sales increased 4%, with comparable store front-end sales up 2.7%. Customer traffic in comparable stores decreased 30 basis points and basket size was up 3%.
November pharmacy sales increased 3.4%, while comparable pharmacy sales increased 1.2%. Prescriptions filled at comparable stores increased 60 basis points in November. Calendar day shifts in November, which had one additional Wednesday and one fewer Monday compared with November 2010, negatively impacted prescriptions filled in comparable stores by 40 basis points. Lower incidence of flu negatively impacted comparable prescriptions filled by 80 basis points.
The estimated negative impact on comparable prescriptions filled from prescription transfers and other trend analysis of prescriptions managed by Express Scripts was approximately 110 basis points. Despite this impact, total prescriptions filled grew by 150 basis points through the month, Walgreens reported.
Comparable pharmacy sales also were negatively impacted by 220 basis points due to generic drug introductions in the last 12 months and by 130 basis points due to lower incidence of cough, cold and flu. Pharmacy sales accounted for 64.7% of total sales for the month.
Flu shots administered at pharmacies and clinics season-to-date were 5 million, versus 5.4 million last year.
ReportersNotebook — Chain Pharmacy, 12/12/11
SUPPLIER NEWS — Following the settlement of a patent-litigation suit with Swiss drug maker Novartis over the patch Vivelle-Dot (estradiol transdermal system), a drug for treating symptoms of menopause, Mylan said it had received a patent license to begin selling its version of the drug in December 2013.
The Pittsburgh-based generic drug maker was the first to file for regulatory approval of the drug with the Food and Drug Administration, and as such will be entitled to 180 days of market exclusivity.
Vivelle-Dot had sales of $240 million during the 12-month period ended in September, according to IMS Health. The patch is designed to be applied twice a week, and Mylan plans to sell it in the 0.025 mg, 0.0375 mg, 0.05 mg, 0.075 mg and 0.1 mg strengths.
Par Pharmaceutical has completed its acquisition of Anchen Pharmaceuticals, the generic drug maker said. Par announced plans in August to acquire Irvine, Calif.-based Anchen for $410 million, consisting of a loan and cash it already had. A privately owned company, Anchen has about 200 employees and more than 72,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing and warehouse space, Par said.
Drug maker Gilead Sciences will acquire Pharmasset for $11 billion, or $137 per share, Gilead said. Pharmasset, based in Princeton, N.J., is a drug maker that currently has three treatments for hepatitis C undergoing clinical trials, including PSI-7977, which is in late-stage development.
After being unanimously recommended for approval by a FDA panel, the FDA has approved an eye disorder treatment created by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. Eylea (aflibercept) is used to treat patients with wet age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss and blindness.
The wet form of AMD includes the growth of abnormal blood vessels, which can leak fluid into the central part of the retina, also known as the macula. When fluid leaks into the macula, the macula thickens and vision loss occurs. The drug was recommended for approval back in June by the Dermatologic and Ophthalmic Drugs Advisory Committee.
I, Rxobot: eRxCity places pharmacy technology front and center
Upon entering eRxCity on the second floor of a medical building at the corner of Mott and Canal streets in Chinatown in New York City, the store’s whole concept becomes clear from a slogan printed on the wall across from a flat-screen TV showing Hong Kong soap operas: “The next generation pharmacy.”
When the pharmacy’s founders, sisters Yvonne Tsang and Priscilla Cheung (née Tsang), opened the store earlier this year, they had come from far outside the pharmacy world. Yvonne had worked on Wall Street, while Priscilla had worked in information technology. In many ways, however, their being outsiders resulted in the approximately 4,000-sq.-ft. store’s unique concept, which required a larger space than could be found on the building’s first floor. “We just knew we didn’t want to be like the other stores,” Priscilla told Drug Store News. But in addition to its design, a major part of the store’s concept is its emphasis on technology.
Rather than placing the pharmacy counter in the back of the store, they placed it near the entrance and made it lower so that the pharmacy robot, provided by ScriptPro, could be right behind the counter rather than hidden in the back, and customers can get a peak at it on their way to the private consultation rooms. “It’s because we’re promoting the use of technology,” Priscilla said. “So why not showcase it?”
Being at the center of Chinatown, the pharmacy serves a predominantly Asian population, one disproportionately affected by diabetes, cholesterol and hepatitis. In addition to language barriers, many in the community are slower to embrace new technology, so the whole idea is to make customers more comfortable approaching the counter, using technology and talking to the pharmacists, who can speak English, Mandarin and Cantonese. “[The pharmacist] is there to help people, like a physician,” Priscilla said. Much of eRxCity’s concept is based on the idea that pharmacy is fundamentally a service industry, she said.
Like many pharmacies, eRxCity offers home delivery of medications, but it also has marshaled technology for this purpose. The staff that delivers the medications carries a mobile tracking device, similar to the ones used by FedEx and UPS package deliverers. Medications and the deliverer’s badge are scanned at the pharmacy and again upon delivery. Upon delivery, the device displays the HIPAA form for the patient — or someone acting on the patient’s behalf — to view and sign, thus allowing the pharmacy to keep track of the medication from the point of entry to the point of sale. “We focus a lot on the efficiency so that our staff can focus on servicing the customer,” Priscilla said.
“We’re a community pharmacy, but we want to operate the back end like a chain,” Yvonne added.
So far, there aren’t any definitive plans to expand — the store only opened in May — but it’s something both sisters see happening in the future, particularly in New York’s Chinese-speaking communities. “We call ourselves ‘The Next-Generation Pharmacy’ because we’re thinking ahead into the future, not just five years but 10 years,” Priscilla said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that both sisters were surnamed Cheung. Their maiden name is Tsang.