PHARMACY

Walgreens plans expansion with Take Care to hire several executive team members

BY Antoinette Alexander

CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. In-store clinic operator Take Care Health Systems, which is owned by Walgreens, has unveiled aggressive expansion plans that include the hiring of several executive team members.

The news comes on the heels of the opening of its operations center in Fargo, N.D., on Sept. 24. The facility brings 43 new positions to the company in the areas of recruiting, billing, customer service and credentialing. It serves as the cornerstone to the company’s expanded national growth over the next 12 months.

This fall, the company is opening clinics in nine new markets, including Cincinnati, Cleveland, Houston, Las Vegas, Miami, Nashville, Orlando, Tampa and Tucson. Combined with expansion in its existing markets of Chicago, Kansas City, Milwaukee and St. Louis, up to 100 new clinics are planned by year’s end. Take Care stated that it is on track to open 400 clinics by the end of next year.

To further support its growth strategy, Take Care has hired several senior executives.

  • Heather Helle has joined Take Care as the chief operating officer, reporting to Peter Miller, president and chief executive officer. In her new role, Helle will lead and direct the operations, human resources, marketing, medical and nursing business lines within Take Care. Helle is a former executive with McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a division of Johnson & Johnson.
  • Kim Rhodes, former senior vice president and general counsel for Ecount, a Citi company, has been hired as chief strategist. The position is a dual role working with Hal Rosenbluth, chairman and senior strategy consultant for Walgreens, on Walgreens strategic initiatives while concurrently leading strategic direction for Take Care.
  • Dell Williams, former vice president of health care industry relations for Aramark Healthcare, has been named senior director of marketing and strategy. Williams will report to Helle.
  • Iris Melendez has joined Take Care as senior director of education and development. Previously, Melendez worked for J&J, where she served as the global lead for a human resources transformation initiative. Melendez reports to Margery Geers, the chief people officer who joined the company earlier this year.

Walgreens had September sales of $4.4 billion, an increase of 9.5 percent for the same month in 2006. The company opened 18 stores during September, including two relocations, and acquired one store. It opened its 6,000th store in New Orleans and will celebrate the grand opening in October.

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PHARMACY

President Bush signs bill for delay of tamper-resistant prescriptions

BY Adam Kraemer

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores thanked President Bush on Monday for his quick action in signing a bill which would extend the implementation date requiring all Medicaid prescriptions to be written on tamper-resistant prescription paper, originally set at Oct. 1.

In a communication to the White House last week, Steve Anderson, NACDS president and chief executive officer, stated, “Without the delay, we anticipate that Medicaid patients will not receive the medications they need in a timely fashion. Disruptions in medication therapy result in human costs and more costly downstream treatments that negatively affect the entire health care system.”

The six-month delay was included as part of H.R. 3668, which also extends certain health care programs that would have expired on the same date.

A provision tucked into an Iraq war spending bill (Public Law 110-28), finalized on May 25, required doctors and other prescribers to write prescriptions on tamper-resistant prescription pads for Medicaid patients beginning October 1, 2007.

NACDS led the charge in seeking a delay of the tamper-resistant requirement, arguing that four months was not enough time for regulators, doctors, pharmacists and prescription pad manufacturers across the country to comply with such a widespread change. With 300 million Medicaid prescriptions filled annually, this requirement would have led to serious disruptions in patient care.

“We cannot express our thanks to President Bush enough for helping low-income Americans continue to receive their prescription medications,” said Anderson. “If the bill was not enacted by today—Oct. 1—the nation’s community pharmacists would have had to choose between serving their patients and being reimbursed for the Medicaid prescriptions they fill—a decision no pharmacist should have to face.”

This issue was an urgent priority for NACDS. However, the organization points out that community pharmacy still faces a much larger threat—a new benchmark, Average Manufacturer Price, that will cut Medicaid pharmacy reimbursements by over $8 billion.

“This six-month delay is crucial to protecting patient access to medications, and it’s an important victory for community pharmacy,” said Anderson. “But we can’t rest. We must continue fighting to ensure that reimbursement cuts do not threaten the ability of pharmacists to serve low-income patients.”

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FDA gives tentative approval to Teva’s generic Valtrex

BY Drew Buono

JERUSALEM Teva has received tentative approval from the Food and Drug Administration to market a generic version of GlaxoSmithKline’s herpes drug Valtrex, according to the Associated Press.

Final approval on the generic will be expected in December 2009 after the patent expires on the brand. Mylan has also received tentative approval for a generic version of Valtrex as well.

Valtrex had sales of about $1.3 billion last year.

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