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7,000 times two: WAG, CVS hit milestones

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK Drug Store News hits your hands, it is likely that a few more openings will have taken place, so who will tout the largest store base on this Oct. 12 issue date? The reality is that it doesn’t really matter.—Within the span of just one week, leading pharmacy retailers CVS Caremark and Walgreens celebrated the opening of their 7,000th stores. By the time this issue of

With healthcare reform hanging in the balance, rising healthcare costs and a physician shortage hampering access to care, the landscape of retail pharmacy isn’t what it used to be. Today, it isn’t necessarily size that matters, but the quality of care and services offered to help patients with their health and wellness.

CVS celebrated on Sept. 24 the grand opening of its 7,000th store in Little Canada, Minn. The new store marked the company’s 41st location in the state, and the 7,000th store since the retailer first opened its doors in Massachusetts in 1963. The company entered Minnesota five years ago.

Just one week later on Oct. 1, Walgreens celebrated the opening of its 7,000th store in Brooklyn, N.Y. The Coney Island-themed event featured a ribbon-cutting ceremony, free health screenings, giveaways, food and entertainment. Over the past nine years, the 108-year-old company has made it well known that its goal was to operate 7,000 stores by 2010.

While 7,000 stores undoubtedly is a significant milestone for both retailers, at the end of the day it’s their aggressive steps to position themselves on the frontlines of health care that sends a powerful message to U.S. health officials about the important role that community pharmacy can play in the nation’s healthcare system.

This is no secret to CVS and Walgreens. “Retail pharmacies and PBMs are on the frontlines of health care, and CVS Caremark is in a great position to help with the healthcare solution,” Tom Ryan, chairman, president and CEO, told analysts during the company’s second-quarter conference call on Aug. 4. “Our clinical focus on disease management and adherence programs, and wellness programs, fits nicely with many points of healthcare reform.”

Echoing that sentiment, Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson told Drug Store News in a recent interview, “the sands are shifting in our industry because of healthcare reform, and changes are taking place,” he said. “And the good thing is, when the sands do shift, it certainly causes uncertainty, but it also creates openings and advances the profession in a meaningful way.”

Those openings create “a huge opportunity for community pharmacists to step up and play a role, and be recognized as a nonphysician healthcare provider,” Wasson added. “They are in the community, and they are the most accessible, trusted healthcare professional. So I think it’s time for the community drug industry to really push the idea of community pharmacists playing a greater role.”

With their 7,000 stores (likely 7,000-plus by the time this issue is printed), retail-based health clinic subsidiaries, PBM businesses and, of course, the thousands of healthcare professionals they employ, both Walgreens and CVS have a massive health-and-wellness operation that has raised the bar for retail pharmacy.

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Late-stage clinical trial results: MS drug is effective

BY Alaric DeArment

ALISO VIEJO, Calif. Patients taking an investigational drug for multiple sclerosis fared better than those taking placebo, according to late-stage clinical results presented Friday at a neurology conference.

Avanir Pharmaceuticals said MS patients taking Zenvia (dextromethorphan and quinidine) in 30 mg/10 mg doses experienced a 11.9% greater reduction in pseudobulbar effect – an MS-related condition also known as PBA that causes sudden, uncontrollable episodes of laughter, crying and other emotional outbursts – than those taking placebo in a 12-week phase 3 trial, results of which the company presented at the 3rd World Congress on Controversies in Neurology in Prague, Czech Republic. Patients taking the 20 mg/10 mg dose did not do better than the placebo group.

“PBA represents an area of high, unmet medical need with no FDA-approved treatments currently available,” study presenter and trial steering committee member Daniel Wynn of the Consultants in Neurology Multiple Sclerosis Center stated. “Although the involuntary emotional outbursts of PBA cause considerable impairment for millions of individuals in the United States, it is under-recognized and commonly misdiagnosed.”

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New report projects 12.6% increase of probiotics market

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK The two takeaways from this story are “the [U.S.] market is expected to grow at a rate of almost 14%” and “the early movers in the industry will benefit in terms of market share.”

 

That about describes the opportunity in a probiotic nutshell.

 

 

The rising interest in probiotics can be credited in part to Dannon’s Activia brand, a line of yogurts and yogurt drinks, which has been heavily advertised to the American consumer with the message that not all bacteria is bad for you — and in fact some bacteria taken on a regular basis can impart some pretty significant health benefits. That advertising message — that probiotics can be an important piece in a healthier-for-you diet — has been all the more reinforced as Bayer supports its probiotic Phillips Colon Health, and as Procter & Gamble rolls out its Align probiotic.

 

 

And the consumers already are core drug store shoppers. The ratio of women to men in search of a product delivering digestive benefits is about 2-to-1, according to industry experts. When women hit their 30s and 40s, that’s the point in their lives when they’re looking for a strategy in life to help them manage their digestive issues.

 

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