PHARMACY

Walgreens shifts Riedl to pharmacy post

BY DSN STAFF

When one of the retail pharmacy industry’s best-known merchandising gurus is pulled away from the front end of the store and put in charge of purchasing and new cost-saving efficiency programs behind the pharmacy counter, you know big changes are afoot.

Such is the case with Walgreens. When Walgreens abruptly announced early this month that it was shifting its top merchant, 27-year company veteran George Riedl, from head of merchandising to overseer of pharmaceutical purchasing and “pharmacy innovation” – and that the move was effective immediately – it put an exclamation point on the company’s ongoing overhaul.

Riedl, who led the company’s purchasing and merchandising departments since 2003, has gone from executive VP marketing and merchandising to a completely new position: senior VP in pharmacy services. The management change is as big as any made at Walgreens since last October, when the company announced the retirement of former CEO Jeff Rein and embarked on a massive renewal effort.

Riedl is now charged with rejuvenating sales and profitability at the pharmacy counter, partly through a new initiative called “PowerRx” that relieves store pharmacists from some time-consuming dispensing duties – like adjudicating prescription claims and verifying scripts with doctors – by shifting those tasks to centralized “hub” pharmacies. The huge job of overseeing the ongoing rationalization and revitalization process now underway throughout every department at the front of the store now falls to a relative outsider, Wal-Mart Stores and Tesco veteran Bryan Pugh, who joined Walgreens just two months ago.

For 34 consecutive years, Walgreens has ridden its stick-to-the-basics “hedgehog” strategy – and its reliance on company-bred management, technological innovation and a time-tested formula for convenience-oriented marketing – to an unbroken string of record-setting annual sales and profits. But in the midst of faltering sales and profits, a worldwide economic tsunami and a crisis in health care delivery and funding, company leaders have signaled clearly that business as usual will no longer do.

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PHARMACY

Jonas Brothers to donate funds to diabetes camps

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK Celebrity phenomenon the Jonas Brothers will donate $25,000 to diabetes camps this summer, the members announced at a Bayer Diabetes Care meeting.

The funds will be sent through their charitable foundation, Change for the Children Foundation.

The Jonas Brothers started Change for the Children Foundation to show that children can support other less fortunate children who are faced with adversity. Sixteen-year-old Nick Jonas, the youngest member of the band, has had Type 1 Diabetes for three years. Last August, he formed a partnership with Bayer Diabetes Care, starting his role as a Diabetes ambassador.

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HHS reports on health concerns, launches health reform Web site

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON Citing a growing chorus of alarm from Americans concerned about healthcare affordability and access, the Obama administration is ramping up pressure for a major overhaul of the nation’s healthcare system.

The Department of Health and Human Services Thursdayissued a report that healthcare officials within the administration say lends urgency to the search for solutions to rising health costs and lack of health coverage among growing numbers of the uninsured.

The report, “Americans Speak on Health Reform: Report on Health Care Community Discussions”, summarizes comments from thousands of Americans who hosted and participated in community forums on health care across the United States. The report “highlights the needfor immediate action to reform health care,” according to HHS.

The report is available on a new Web site dedicated to health reform: www.healthreform.gov. Unveiled Thursday, the Web site provides viewing access to Thursdays White House Health Forum. HHS is encouraging consumers to share their thoughts about health reform with the Obama administration via the new Web site, and to sign a statement in support of comprehensive health reform this year.

“This new web site…and report ensure that when we discuss health reform, the American people will have an equal stake in the health reform efforts,” said HHS spokeswoman Jenny Backus. “Skyrocketing health care costs are creating enormous pressure on families, on businesses and our fiscal future.”

The Obama Administration, Backus asserted, “is committed to taking action this year on health reform and is calling on government, business, health care stakeholders and everyday Americans to come together to make it happen.”

More than 9,000 people signed up in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to host a discussion, and thousands more participated in the gatherings, according to the agency. After each event, guests and hosts were asked to fill out a survey and submit a group report to the Presidential Transition Team’s web site summarizing the group’s concerns and suggestions.

A copy of the report, along with photos and other materials, is available at www.HealthReform.gov.

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