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CVS, Caremark celebrate merger’s first anniversary

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. The CVS and Caremark Rx merger hit its first anniversary on Monday, a deal that has been described as “game changing” and has transformed the company into the largest provider of prescriptions and related health services in the country.

To celebrate the one-year milestone, CVS Caremark on Monday rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

The company is expected to report 2008 revenues of well over $85 billion, placing it among the 20 largest companies in the nation. CVS Caremark also expects to achieve more than $700 million in cost-saving synergies in 2008—more than 50 percent higher than the original target at the time the merger was first announced.

It operates the largest retail pharmacy chain by store count with 6,300 CVS; the largest retail clinic business through MinuteClinic; the largest specialty pharmacy and health management programs; and one of the leading mail order pharmacies.

According to Tom Ryan, chairman, president and chief executive officer, the company currently has about 20 pilot programs underway as it works to develop differentiated offerings.

“Through innovative and industry-unique programs, CVS Caremark is combining the strength of retail and PBM services so consumers receive the most efficient and convenient care option—on the phone, through the mail, on the Internet or face-to-face. These efforts will change the way consumers use their pharmacy benefits,” stated Ryan.

Ryan noted that clients are embracing the new model, as evidenced by the $2 billion-plus new PBM business won by CVS Caremark. Some recent contract wins attributable to the CVS Caremark model include the Board of Trustees of the Employees Retirement System of Texas’ recent selection of CVS Caremark as the state’s PBM and Hewitt Associates’ choice of CVS Caremark as the first preferred vendor for the Hewitt Pharmacy Purchasing Group.

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Publix postpones Miracle Mile GreenWise opening

BY Michael Johnsen

VERO BEACH, Fla. Publix Super Markets has placed on hold plans to open a Publix GreenWise organic grocer here, according to reports published Wednesday.

Plans for the Vero Beach store have slowed while the grocer focuses on opening its GreenWise concept in Boca Raton, Kim Jaeger, Publix spokeswoman, told Stuart News Group.

According to the Stuart News report, Publix had announced last September the first GreenWise Market would open on Miracle Mile in Vero Beach during the third quarter of 2008.

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FDA approves new cancer drug from Cephalon

BY DSN STAFF

WASHINGTON The Food and Drug Administration ahs announced its approval of Cephalon’s new cancer drug, Treanda. This recent approval hopes to raise the company’s shares, which have fallen 29 percent since June, published reports claim.

Treanda, indicated for chronic lymphocytic leukemia, was granted priority review by the FDA. The FDA approval of Treanda will mark the first big step in the oncology department for Cephalon, which normally makes its sales on pain relievers and treatments for central-nervous-system disorders. According to reports, the approval of this drug will bring it close to competing with major drug companies.

The approval of Treanda not only is expected to raise the share price of the company, but will also pave the way for Cephalon to introduce more cancer-related drugs into the market. As a result, shares of Cephalon were up $2.79, or 4.7 percent, to $62.14.

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