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CVS Caremark reports positive Q2 results, raises outlook

BY Allison Cerra

WOONSOCKET, R.I. CVS Caremark announced that its net revenues for second quarter 2009 increased 17.5%, up from $21.1 billion during second quarter 2008.

The company said it earned $886.5 million, or 60 cents per share, in the three months ended June 30, up from $771.2 million, or 53 cents per share, a year ago.

Revenues in the pharmacy services segment increased 22.1% to $13 billion in the second quarter of 2009. Adjusting the growth rate for the impact of new generics, net revenues would have grown 26.2% in the pharmacy services segment. During the second quarter of 2009, the company converted a number of RxAmerica retail pharmacy network contracts, which resulted in those contracts being accounted for using the gross method which increased net revenues.

Retail network claims processed during the second quarter of 2009 increased 8.8% to 148.3 million, compared with 136.3 million in the prior-year period. This increase was primarily due to the addition of RxAmerica claims and claims that were filled at retail pharmacies under the Maintenance Choice program. This was offset by a reduction in claims due to the termination of two large health plan clients effective Jan. 1. Mail service claims processed during the second quarter of 2009 increased 5.3% to 15.8 million, compared with 15 million in the prior year period, primarily as a result of net new client starts offset by a shift of participants toward the company’s Maintenance Choice program.

Meanwhile, the retail pharmacy unit, which includes in-store pharmacies and front-store items, got a lift from a later Easter during the quarter. Sales rose 17% to $13.8 billion. CVS runs more than 6,900 drugstores in 43 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Same-store sales, or sales at location open at least one year, climbed 6.1%. Same-store sales at pharmacy sections grew 7.5%, and nonpharmacy sales rose 3%.

“I’m very pleased with our second quarter results, which were at the high end of our expectations,” said Tom Ryan, CVS Caremark president and CEO. “We saw solid revenue growth and cost control across our businesses, which led to 8% operating profit growth after one-time costs for the Longs integration. This is shaping up to be a very good year and we expect an even better 2010.”

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Study: Zinc good for healthy immune function, destroying viruses, bacteria

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK Zinc not only supports healthy immune function, but increases activation of T cells responsible for destroying viruses and bacteria, according to a new study.

According to the study found in the 2009 print issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, scientists found that T cells taken from the zinc-supplemented group had higher activation than those from the placebo group.

“As the debate over zinc supplementation in healthy individuals continues,” said John Wherry, Ph.D., deputy editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, “studies like this help shed light on how zinc may enhance the ability of our immune systems to fight off foreign invaders. Equally important, this work points toward new possible targets for entirely new drugs to help augment immune function and prevent or stop infections that might be resistant to traditional antibiotics.”

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Safeway launches annual fundraising campaign for MDA

BY Anna Mcgrath

PLEASANTON, Calif. Safeway announced its seventh companywide campaign to support the Muscular Dystrophy Association and its work to defeat more than 40 devastating neuromuscular diseases.

Proceeds from the campaign go towards financing medical research and programs to improve the lives of people with neuromuscular diseases.

Safeway’s 2009 MDA campaign commences this month and will last through Labor Day. Over the years the company has raised more that $41.7 million for muscular dystrophy charities.

“Safeway is an invaluable partner that has proven, time and time again, that it cares deeply about people affected by muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases and all people with disabilities,” said MDA national chairman Jerry Lewis. “By reaching out to millions of customers each day, Safeway will raise public awareness while bringing hope and help to the hundreds of thousands of people – kids and adults – living with these muscle-wasting diseases.”

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