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Acetaminophen products to undergo changes following advisory committee’s votes

BY DSN STAFF

ADELPHI, Md. Three Food and Drug Administration advisory committees voted on sweeping changes regarding the marketing, merchandising and formulation of acetaminophen products last week, though the proposed changes fell short of pulling combination products containing APAP off the market.

Among the changes: committee members recommend by a vote of 21-16 that the maximum total daily dose of 4 grams/day of APAP in nonprescription single ingredient and combination products be lowered; 24-13 recommended the maximum nonprescription single adult dose be limited to 650 mg; 26-11 recommended that acetaminophen doses above that be reverse-switched to prescription-only; and 36-1 suggested that only one strength of APAP in liquid form be available OTC.

However, advisory committee members recommended against imposing pack-size limitations on products containing acetaminophen (17-20); and the committee also did not support the recall of OTC APAP combination products (13-24).

On that note, OTC manufacturers of APAP products breathed a sigh of relief. “[The Consumer Healthcare Products Association] strongly believes that patients and physicians should continue to have access to the current range of over-the-counter acetaminophen-containing products, and we are pleased the committee did not recommend eliminating these important nonprescription products,” Linda Suydam, CHPA president, stated following the meeting. “While we are pleased with the committee’s recommendation to allow continued access to OTC combination medicines containing acetaminophen because we know they provide real benefits to consumers, we are disappointed in their divided vote to lower the maximum daily dose and the single dose of 1,000 mg acetaminophen,” she added.

According to CHPA, there was a notable lack of data referenced by the committee to support these recommendations.

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Drug retailers post June figures

BY Rob Eder

NEW YORK Drug store chains Walgreens and Rite Aid each reported June earnings Thursday.

For Walgreens, a combination of more 90-day prescription customers and a shift that added an extra weekday to the June 2009 calendar, helped drive sales up 9 percent for the month, with pharmacy leading the way.

According to the company, the total number of prescriptions filled in comparable stores grew 7.5 percent, including a 1.5 percent increase attributable to more patients filling 90-day prescriptions. Meanwhile, as patients generally fill more prescriptions on weekdays than weekends, the addition of the extra weekday this June, accounted for a 2.2-percentage-point increase in the total number of scripts filled in comparable stores.

The extra scripts helped drive Walgreens’ pharmacy same-stores sales comps up 5.8 percent for the month, this despite being negatively impacted by generic substitutions to the tune of some 4.4 percent for the month.

The calendar shift also helped drive stronger overall comps, with same-store sales up 3.4 percent overall despite a softer seasonal business versus June 2008, which helped keep front-end comps in the negative, down 0.9 percent.

In all, Walgreens generated total sales of more than $5.24 billion for the month of June versus $4.8 billion during the comparable year-ago period.

So far, for the year-to-date Walgreens’ sales fiscal 2009 sales are tracking at nearly $52.87 billion for the first 10 months of its fiscal year 2009, up 7.4 percent from $49.24 billion a year ago.

Meanwhile, fellow drug chain Rite Aid reported same-store sales down 0.6 percent for the month, as a 1.4 percent increase in pharmacy comps was not enough to offset a 4.5-percent drop in front-end comps, for the four weeks ended June 27. And for Rite Aid, the hit from generics proved a bit sharper, shaving 484 basis points from its pharmacy comp numbers, the company stated.

Excluding the impact from the Brooks-Eckerd stores it acquired, same-store sales in core Rite Aid stores would have been flat during the month of June, with front-end comps down 4.4 percent and pharmacy comps up 2.6 percent. Same-store sales at the acquired Brooks Eckerd stores declined 1.8 percent in June, with front-end comps down 5 percent and pharmacy comps down 0.7 percent.

In all, Rite Aid’s total sales decreased 2.5 percent during the month, to $1.97 billion versus $2.02 billion for the same period a year ago. Year-to-date, Rite Aid’s total sales through the first 17 weeks of the company’s fiscal 2010 are down 1.5 percent to $8.48 versus $8.61 the same time a year ago. To date, same-store sales are tracking up 0.3 percent for the year, with a 1.6-percent lift in pharmacy comps feeding a 2.3-percent decrease at the front-end of the store.

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Take Care opens new Scottsdale clinic

BY Rob Eder

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Walgreens’ clinic division, Take Care Health Systems, announced the addition of its newest clinic here Thursday.

The new clinic, located at the Walgreens store at 7011 East Shea Blvd., in Scottsdale, Ariz., makes No. 19 in the area for Take Care. In all, Take Care currently operates 346 retail-based clinics in 35 different markets.

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