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Bob Evans Farms CEO appointed to Walgreens board of directors

BY Allison Cerra

DEERFIELD, Ill. Walgreens announced Steven A. Davis, chairman and CEO of Bob Evans Farms Inc., has been elected to its board of directors effective immediately.

Davis, who joins the board as an independent director, becomes the board’s 12th member.

“We welcome Steven’s valuable experience developing strategies for some of the most successful, longstanding American brands,” said Walgreens chairman Alan G. McNally. “His career-long focus on gaining consumer insights and delivering high-quality at affordable prices makes him a natural fit.”

Before joining Bob Evans in 2006, Davis worked at Yum! Brands Inc., where he had been president of Long John Silver’s and A&W All-American Food Restaurants since 2002. Previously, Davis served in a variety of operations management and other executive positions in Yum! Brands’ Pizza Hut division, including SVP concept development where his team introduced the Wing Street concept.

Prior to joining Pizza Hut in 1993, Davis was with Kraft General Foods for nine years. Earlier in his career, he held a series of brand management positions in Kraft’s cheese business where he launched successful new products and marketing campaigns.

Davis serves on numerous community, professional and corporate boards including the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital, the Richard J. Solove Research Institute Foundation and the Columbus Partnership and Compete Columbus, organizations focused on economic development strategy for the region. He is also a board member of the National Restaurant Association and the EMBARQ Corp.

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Walgreens set to expand distribution capacity

BY Jim Frederick

WOBORN, Mass. Walgreens is expanding the distribution capacity at its Mt. Vernon, Ill.-based distribution center by adding more portable robotic picking devices and upgrading many of its traditional conveyor-based systems into automated zones for sortation and movement of items to be shipped.

Walgreens uses the Kiva Mobile Fulfillment System from Kiva Systems in Mt. Vernon to store inventory and pick replenishment orders for its 6,700 stores and specialty pharmacies. Expanding the system in that distribution center puts nearly 1,000 mobile robots under a single roof, according to Kiva.

The upgrade marks the third expansion of the robotic picking system at the center since its initial deployment in 2007, Kiva noted. It also heralds a doubling of the throughput capacity at the center, the company reports.

“Productivity metrics from previous rollouts far exceeded Walgreens’ specifications for pick rate, accuracy, cycle time, tote utilization and installation time,” said Kiva CEO Mick Mountz. “By doubling capacity we expect Walgreens to quickly achieve an extraordinary new level of strategic competitive advantage and productivity.”

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Congress takes up follow-on biologics bill

BY Drug Store News Team

The long-awaited breakthrough for follow-on biologics may be close at hand.

Prompted by a far more supportive President and the growing crisis in healthcare funding, Congress has again taken up the call for a bill that would create a regulatory pathway for FDA approval of generic versions of biologically-engineered drugs. And with the strong affirmation of President Obama, who has campaigned for such an approval pathway, the newest iteration of the bill stands a far better chance of passage than previous attempts in the House and Senate.

The Promoting Innovation and Access to Life-Saving Medicine Act could mark the most significant change to the delicate balance of power between the branded and generic drug industries since passage of the landmark Hatch/Waxman compromise bill in 1984, which ushered in the modern era of me-too medicines. Tellingly, one of the new bill’s sponsors is an architect of that 1984 legislation, Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California.

The push for follow-on biologics augers well for both health plan payers and patients coping with the sometimes staggering costs of critically important but expensive pioneer biologics, and for the generic drug industry itself as it faces a critical shortage of new marketing opportunities as the number of blockbuster drugs facing patent expirations dries up. A new pipeline of me-too biologics could help fill the gap.

“With countless patients struggling to pay the high costs of brand biopharmaceuticals, an approval pathway for safe, effective and affordable biogeneric medicines that provides access sooner rather than later is desperately needed,” stated Kathleen Jaeger, president and CEO, Generic Pharmaceutical Association.

Cost-saving considerations aside, there’s no disputing the business potential follow-on biologics represent. Bio-engineered pharmaceuticals and specialized, highly targeted medications aimed at serious chronic or life-threatening diseases represent the only major bright spot right now in the global pharmaceutical market, with growth rates that far outpace the sluggish market for mainline meds. Indeed, most of the drugs that have reached blockbuster status in recent years have been biologically engineered specialty meds.

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