PHARMACY

A&P’s mobile, refill programs simplify Rx

BY Antoinette Alexander

A&P may be a supermarket chain, but judging by its string of new health-and-wellness initiatives and strong emphasis on pharmacy, one could argue that it really is a pharmacy with a grocery store wrapped around it.


Through A&P’s network of 200 pharmacies and 605 pharmacists, the company is aggressively looking for ways to improve the health and well-being of its shoppers. And that includes improving medication adherence. 


To that end, the company recently launched a new opt-in email/text-message reminder service. How it works: Patients can opt in to receive either an email or text notifying them that their prescription, which they or their doctor have called in for refill, is ready for pickup. If it isn’t picked up within three days, a reminder email or text will be sent. Also, if there are no refills left on a prescription and the doctor hasn’t called back the pharmacy within a day, a notification will be sent to the patient letting him or her know that the doctor has not yet returned the pharmacy’s call.


A&P also now offers opt-in automatic refills on maintenance prescriptions and, if patients are signed up for the email/text notification service, they will be notified when that refill is ready.


“We found it is very good for adherence. [Going forward], we are looking at some other adherence programs,” said VP pharmacy Robin Page, who noted that it was too early to provide details on future programs.


A&P also is further expanding into immunizations by certifying pharmacists, and has rolled out a free prescription delivery service in all of its pharmacies. To boost customer loyalty and help patients save money, A&P also offers its Live Better! Wellness Club, which includes savings on generic drugs, free prenatal and children’s prescription vitamins, and discounts on pet prescriptions, among other savings.


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PHARMACY

Rx focus pulls Kinney through recession

BY Antoinette Alexander

While the economic downturn battered retailers across all channels, new pharmacy services and a new state-of-the-art pharmacy system has helped regional player Kinney Drugs weather the storm.


Kinney Drugs, which opened its first store in 1903 and today operates 90 locations, completed in 2010 the rollout of its new pharmacy system and, as a result, is now able to offer new services such as ReadyScripts. ReadyScripts is an automated refill program that is married with outbound messaging for patient reminders and free prescription delivery for those patients with little or no mobility.


Through a partnership with a central New York hospital, Kinney Drugs also is offering computer-assisted dispensing machines for the home setting and mobility chairs.


Kinney Drugs previously had been providing vaccinations only at its Vermont locations but, thanks to changes in New York state regulations, the retailer is now offering immunizations in its New York pharmacy locations as of mid-2010.


Looking ahead, the company indicated that it is planning to grow its store base by 2% to 4% each year, and also is interested in acquiring independent operators to establish a customer base in 
new markets.

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Meijer disputes belief that nothing is free

BY Alaric DeArment

The Midwest is known for flat landscapes and fertile farm fields stretching to the horizon, but it also is home to one of the country’s oldest and most successful mass merchandise chains — one with a long history of strong emphasis on pharmacy programs.


Where a growing number of chains have adopted generic discount programs, Meijer has taken to giving many drugs away for free. The list of medications that customers can obtain at no charge now includes metformin for Type 2 diabetes, prenatal vitamins and most antibiotics.


The chain also offers a variety of screenings for diabetes, cholesterol, liver function and blood pressure, as well as programs for combating obesity, such as body mass index and weight management information and education. Immunizations offered include seasonal flu, pneumococcal and shingles vaccines, all available on a walk-up basis.


The company, which currently has 195 stores, plans to open two more in the fall and has been expanding in Chicago with small-format stores of 90,000 sq. ft. that are focused on grocery and pharmacy.

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