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CVS Caremark’s Q1 results forge ahead despite weak flu season

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. Despite a weak flu season and unfavorable weather in some regions, CVS Caremark posted record first-quarter revenues and earnings.

“I’m happy to report another solid quarter this morning and continued share gains in retail and growth in our generic dispensing in mail and retail and better expense leverage that enabled us to deliver on-plan operating margins for the quarter,” Tom Ryan, chairman, president and CEO, told analysts, noting that the positive results occurred despite a weak flu season and severe weather in some key retail markets.

Net revenues for the three months ended March 31 increased $366 million to $23.8 billion, up from $23.4 billion during the year-ago period.

Net income attributable to CVS Caremark was $771 million, or 55 cents per diluted share, compared with $738 million, or 50 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

On the retail side of the business, revenues rose 3.6% to $14 billion. Same-store sales increased 2.3%. Pharmacy same-store sales rose 3.7% and were negatively impacted by about 290 basis points because of recent generic introductions and were positively impacted by roughly 260 basis points due to the continued growth of the Maintenance Choice program. Front-end same-store sales decreased 0.7% and, as expected, were negatively impacted by the inclusion of the acquired Longs stores and benefited from an earlier Easter this year.

In the pharmacy services segment, revenues rose 2.6% to $11.8 billion due largely to the conversion of a number of RxAmerica pharmacy network contracts. Adjusting the growth rate for the impact of new generics, net revenues would have grown 7.7% in the pharmacy services segment.

The company raised the mid-point earnings per share guidance range for the full year 2010. The company increased the low-end of earnings per share guidance by 3 cents and now expects adjusted earnings per share from continuing operations to be in the range of $2.77 to $2.84 and GAAP earnings per share from continuing operations to be between $2.58 and $2.65.

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BioSante to re-initiate prostate cancer vaccine program

BY Alaric DeArment

LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. Drug maker BioSante Pharmaceuticals has restarted a development program for a prostate cancer vaccine, the company said Monday.

The company announced plans to begin treating prostate cancer patients using the GVAX Prostate vaccine in a phase 2 clinical trial at Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center beginning in fourth quarter 2010.

“We have worked with GVAX Prostate Cancer Vaccine for several years and believe there is a great potential to develop a treatment regimen that will be a significant benefit to men who suffer with prostate cancer,” Johns Hopkins associate professor Charles Drake said in a statement on behalf of BioSante.

The news comes days after the Food and Drug Administration approved Dendreon Corp.’s prostate cancer vaccine Provenge (sipuleucel-T), which works by modifying the patient’s own immune cells.

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Stater Bros. announces prenatal vitamin offering for mothers-to-be

BY Allison Cerra

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. A Southern California supermarket chain is offering free prenatal vitamins to expectant mothers this month.

In line with Pregnancy Awareness Month, Stater Bros.’ said its Super Rx Pharmacy will offer prenatal vitamins to those with a doctor’s prescription. Quantities must be written for a thirty-day supply and not to exceed 30 tablets. The free prenatal vitamin program will feature the generic version of these well-known brands:

  • Advanced Natal Care
  • Natal Care Glosstabs
  • Nata Tab Rx
  • Natal Care Plus
  • Prenavite
  • Ultra Natal Care

This initiative is one of several Stater Bros. has offered its customers. The supermarket chain also offers a free antibiotic program and $4 generic prescription drug program.

“Stater Bros. remains committed to the health and well-being of our valued customers,” stated Jack Brown, Stater Bros. chairman and CEO.  “As the only supermarket chain in Southern California to offer this program free of charge, Stater Bros. is proud to promote the health of mothers-to-be while easing some of the economic burden that many of our valued customers are facing.”

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