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Fusing a franchise with indie Rx service

BY Alaric DeArment

Since pharmacist Michael Busch opened a pharmacy in St. Louis in 1968 and dubbed it The Medicine Shoppe, the business he started has evolved into Medicine Shoppe International, a global franchising system of more than 1,200 stores in locations ranging from the United States and Canada to Taiwan and Dubai.

MEDICINE SHOPPE INTERNATIONAL

Headquarters: Dublin, Ohio2009 sales: $1.56 billion*% change vs. 2008: -7.8%*No. of stores: 708*No. of stores with Rx: 708*Avg. store size: 1,800 sq. ft.Rx sales: $1.48 billion*% of sales from Rx: 95%Sales per store: $2.2 million*

* U.S. stores onlySource: Drug Store News

Unlike traditional retail pharmacy chains, Medicine Shoppe stores operate under a franchise agreement that allows them to maintain their independence while using the Medicine Shoppe or Medicap brand. As of March, there were 708 Medicine Shoppe and Medicap stores in the United States, with most operating under the Medicine Shoppe brand.

By becoming a Medicine Shoppe pharmacy, independents can acquire brand recognition where they previously may have had none, as well as a full range of services usually available at the chain stores.

Also in summer 2009, MSI parent company Cardinal Health moved MSI’s headquarters from St. Louis to Dublin, Ohio, where Cardinal is based.

Despite the small footprint of its stores, MSI has expanded the services that the stores offer. Two years ago, it opened its 100th Specialized Care Center for diabetes patients, part of a program designed to help patients better understand their illness and comply with physicians’ recommendations. The company provided diabetes manager certification to nearly 200 pharmacists to help support the program, allowing them to offer education and counseling. In October 2008, it began offering year-round vaccinations for influenza, pneumonia and shingles, as well as seasonal and travel vaccinations, administered by pharmacists trained and certified by the American Pharmacists Association.

The company also has run into some problems recently, however. In March, seven franchisees representing more than 600 U.S. Medicine Shoppe and Medicap pharmacies filed a class-action lawsuit against MSI, Medicap and Cardinal Health, alleging that Cardinal tried to push them into a an agreement whereby the company took in “tens of millions” of dollars but reduced services despite not reaching its goal of getting 95% of stores to accept the arrangement. MSI has dismissed the lawsuit as having “no merit.”

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Schnucks’ O’Brien to serve on Department of Agriculture advisory committee

BY Alaric DeArment

ST. LOUIS An executive from Schnuck Markets will serve on an advisory committee of the Department of Agriculture, Schnucks said this week.

Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack announced that Schnucks VP produce and floral Mike O’Brien would be one of 25 people appointed to a two-year term on the USDA’s Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee. O’Brien is also vice chairman of the Produce Marketing Association.

 

“I am honred to represent Schnuck Markets and the retail produce industry as a member of this committee,” O’Brien said. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to contribute and to make a difference for families across the nation.”

The committee, originally chartered in 2001, advises the secretary of agriculture on industry issues related to fruits and vegetables.

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Gilead commences phase 3 trial for single-tablet HIV treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

FOSTER CITY, Calif. Gilead Sciences has started a late-stage clinical trial of an investigational 4-in-1 treatment for HIV, the drug maker said.

Gilead announced the initiation of a phase 3 trial of its “Quad” HIV drug, a single-tablet treatment that combines elvitegravir, cobicistat, emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate. The study will compare the Quad regimen with the standard of care among adults with HIV-1 who have not taken antiretroviral treatments. The company is also investigating cobicistat as a standalone boosting agent for antiretroviral drugs.

“We are pleased to announce that the Quad phase 3 clinical program is underway,” Gilead EVP research and development and chief scientific officer Norbert Bischofberger said. “Efficacy and safety results from the phase 2 study suggest that the Quad may represent an important new option for patients with HIV.”

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