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GPhA appoints CVS Caremark public policy director

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — An executive from CVS Caremark will guide policy for a generic drug industry trade association.

The Generic Pharmaceutical Association said Wednesday that it had appointed CVS Caremark senior director of public policy Christine Simmon to run its policy shop as SVP policy and strategic alliances, effective Oct. 24. Christine Simmon previously worked for the GPhA as VP policy, public affairs and development from 2002 to 2006.

"We are delighted to welcome Christine back to our professional team," GPhA president and CEO Ralph Neas said. "Her vast experience working with legislators, regulatory agencies and industry leaders on key healthcare issues will serve our industry well. She will play a leading role in our mission to show that safe, effective and affordable generic medicines are a critical part of the solution to controlling costs and lowering the nation’s healthcare bill."

Simmon also will help expand the GPhA’s partnerships with other industry, consumer and public policy organizations, the group said.


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Supercenters rule, but small formats to accelerate for Walmart

BY Mike Troy

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart plans a modest acceleration of its small-format stores in the coming years as investors were assured Wednesday morning that financial returns are now comparable with the company’s large supercenters.

Walmart kicked off its 19th annual investor conference on Wednesday with optimistic comments by senior U.S. leadership about their outlook for the holiday season as well as an outline of growth initiatives for 2013 and beyond. One of the most highly anticipated revelations heading into the event was Walmart’s plans for its smaller format Neighborhood Market and Walmart Express stores. By year end, Walmart expects to be operating a total of 240 Neighborhood Markets and 12 Express stores. By 2016 the number of Neighborhood Markets will double to roughly 500 units generating $10 billion in revenue, according to Walmart U.S. president and CEO Bill Simon.

Express stores remain a work in progress and Walmart is attempting to elevate the approximately 15,000-sq.-ft. store’s rate of return to that of the approximately 45,000-sq.-ft. Neighborhood Market. Simon said a market density test is currently underway to determine how the Express concept fares against competition.

While Neighborhood Market growth will accelerate next year, it is still well below the pace at which Walmart was opening supercenters during that format’s hey day. According to Simon, supercenters will be the primary driver of growth for the next several years with 125 new units coming on line this year and next as substantial opportunity remains for the larger stores.

He also noted that Walmart, a company which opened close to 300 supecenters during the peak of expansion, has the capability to open small format stores well in excess of that number. Simon made a similar assertion during the prior year conference when asked about the pace of small format expansion.

According to Simon, Walmart’s small format stores offer a blend of low prices, fresh food, pharmacy, quality perception and multichannel capabilities that can’t be matched by rivals, such as drug, dollar and limited assortment food retailers.

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Reports: Meningitis outbreak prompts calls for inquiry into compounding pharmacies

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Members of Congress are calling for an inquiry into compounding pharmacies amid a meningitis outbreak that has infected 119 people and killed 11, according to published reports.

The New York Times reported that Democratic and Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees the Food and Drug Administration, had called for an inquiry into laws and regulations governing compounding pharmacies. The committee, of which Republican Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan is chair, includes Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., Diana DeGette, D-Colo. and Frank Pallone, D-N.J. The Times reported that Upton supported opening an inquiry, along with three other Republican members of the committee.

According to the Times, the infections are linked to injectable methylprednisolone acetate, a compounded epidural steroid drug produced at the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass. Health officials originally thought the infections stemmed from Aspergillus fungus that had contaminated the drug, but officials in Tennessee determined that it was another, much rarer fungus called Exserohilum.


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