PHARMACY

ABC’s Good Neighbor Pharmacy operations wields growing national brand prowess

BY Jim Frederick

Good Neighbor Pharmacy
ABC chairman, president and CEO: R. David Yost
Corp. Offices: Valley Forge, Pa.
Number of Members/Stores: 3,000
Web page: healthinfo.mygnp.com

As parent company AmerisourceBergen merged more of its old Family Pharmacy network of independent drug stores and store-support services into its resurgent Good Neighbor Pharmacy operations and marketing umbrella, GNP has continued a rapid growth spurt and muscled its way into the top tier of national drug store brands.

In mid-decade, ABC’s managers opted to scrap the healthcare and drug distribution giant’s dual-brand approach to the independent pharmacy marketplace and pour the company’s considerable store-support, purchasing, private-label and marketing resources into a single brand, Good Neighbor Pharmacy. Since then, the GNP brand has become ubiquitous in many regions of the United States.

More than 3,000 independent drug store owners now embrace the GNP logo, making it part of their identity in thousands of locations around the country. For owner-operators with the panache to seamlessly combine their own penchant for personalized customer service and patient care in their communities with the operational, technological, logistical and marketing tools ABC makes available under the GNP program, it can be a potent retail combination.

The cream of those store support services goes to the company’s fledgling franchise pharmacy program, GNP Premier. Launched last summer, GNP Premier is designed to better leverage the sheer scale and national reach of GNP, while connecting its pharmacy members more directly with the full range of resources offered by GNP and its parent company.

GNP is now the nation’s seventh-largest pharmacy network, according to Drug Store News research. In 2008, ABC further boosted GNP’s clout with managed care provider networks by linking GNP stores with its other independent pharmacy customers under a unified umbrella. This so-called Good Neighbor Pharmacy Provider Network “consists of approximately 5,000 stores that have joined together for the benefit of being included in managed care provider networks,” said ABC chairman, president and CEO R. David Yost, making it “the third-largest provider network in the United States, behind only the two largest national retail pharmacy chains.”

“There’s strength in numbers,” Yost noted at the company’s 2008 annual gathering for its independent pharmacy customers.

Perhaps more significant, GNP pharmacies continue to vindicate the solid reputation independent pharmacies enjoy for personalized customer service. GNP ranked highest among all community pharmacies in a recent survey measuring pharmacy customer satisfaction from Wilson Health Information and Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals. “Good Neighbor is rated No.1 in 27 of the 63 satisfaction measures,” Wilson reported, “including overall convenience, pricing and insurance, professional and store service, Web site issues and overall satisfaction.”

What’s more, the company’s Diabetes Shoppe program — now inextricably linked in many consumers’ minds with athlete Diabetes Shoppe spokesman “Iron” Andy Holder, a charismatic Ironman competitor with diabetes — has become one of the drug store industry’s premier marketing and merchandising programs for pharmacy-based diabetic care.

To better reach diabetic patients, GNP recently launched a new Web site, livingwithoutlimits.diabetesshoppe.com. In addition to providing links to other Web sites that help an individual with diabetes obtain the most current information on managing their condition, the site includes an area where people can write their story about how diabetes has impacted them.

In one more recent development, GNP allied this winter with influenza vaccination specialty company CSL Biotherapies to provide community pharmacists with a promotional immunization kit to help increase the awareness of the importance of immunizations and vaccines.

The materials, which consist of in-store posters, prescription bag stuffers, buttons, flyers and incentives for companion sales items, will help to trigger conversations between patients and pharmacists about the importance of immunizations, according to GNP.

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PHARMACY

Rhode Island develops prescription savings program for residents

BY Alaric DeArment

PROVIDENCE, R.I. Residents of Rhode Island can save an average 30% on prescription drugs using a card issued to them free of charge.

The card, RIRx, is similar to prescription drug cards issued in several states already through a non-profit program administered by United Networks of America. The cards are accepted at more than 54,000 national and regional pharmacies, according to the program’s Web site, www.FreeDrugCard.us.

The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce will seek to create awareness and distribute the cards.

“The cost of healthcare is a top concern for Rhode Island’s residents,” chamber president Laurie White stated. “With unemployment on the rise, due to the stalling economy, many individuals and families are finding themselves without health insurance.”

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Anti-crime measures in Congress win strong endorsement from NACDS

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON Congress is moving on two fronts to combat organized crime against pharmacies and other retailers, generating strong praise from chain pharmacy leaders.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores Friday issued a letter to Reps. Brad Ellsworth, D-Ind., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, in support of their introduction of H.R. 1173, the Organized Retail Crime Act of 2009. The bill would define organized retail crime and expand fraud statutes to include the illegal use of gift cards, Universal Product Code labels, or radio identification transponders.

The Ellsworth-Jordan bill also recommends that the United States Sentencing Commission review and amend the sentencing guidelines for convicted organized retail crime offenders.

H.R. 1173 has gained bi-partisan backing from co-sponsors including Reps. Arthur Davis, an Alabama Democrat, and Republicans James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin, John Kline of Minnesota and Mike Rogers of Michigan.

“This strong bipartisan legislation will help to stem the growing problem of organized retail crime, by providing much needed clarity within the U.S. criminal code to prosecute such criminal behavior as a federal felony, including facilitation of such illegal activities,” NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson told lawmakers in his letter Friday. “As you know, organized retail crime is responsible for over $30 billion in losses annually, resulting in increased costs for merchants, higher prices for consumers, and lost tax revenue for state and local governments. In addition to increased costs faced by retailers to cover losses and investment in additional security measures, consumers are placed at risk when package tampering occurs on consumer health care products, such as infant formula and OTC medications.”

NACDS, Anderson pointed out, “has long advocated for federal legislation that treats theft committed by organized, professional crime rings as a federal felony, especially since much of the stolen product is transported across state lines.”

Besides arming federal law enforcement officials with “the authority to pursue and prosecute individuals who engage in such criminal activities,” Anderson noted, the Ellsworth-Jordan bill “also targets criminals’ use of online marketplaces to sell the fruits of organized retail crime to unsuspecting consumers and establishes specific and narrow obligations for operators of online marketplaces.”

The chain pharmacy organization also endorsed H.R. 1166, the E-Fencing Enforcement Act of 2009. In a letter sent Friday to Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., who is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, Anderson thanked Scott for introducing the measure.

“Your legislation will help to stem the growing problem of the use of online marketplaces by criminals to redistribute stolen merchandise, including those obtained through organized retail crime,” Anderson told the lawmaker.

H.R. 1166 would prosecute the electronic fencing of stolen products, and empower retailers to seek relief against high-volume sellers who engage in the e-fencing of stolen merchandise.

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