PHARMACY

Independent pharmacies show why they top in customer service

BY Michael Johnsen

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — Anyone who has ever managed a retail operation at the store level knows — perception is reality.

(THE NEWS: Independent pharmacies earn top scores from Consumer Reports readers. For the full story, click here.)

And the perception among Consumer Reports readers is that the little mom and pops do pharmacy better than the big chain stores do. That’s nothing new. What is interesting to note is the way they perceive some of the country’s biggest independent operators, such as the fast-growing McKesson franchise group Health Mart. In just five years, Health Mart has grown from 260 stores to more than 2,700, and along the way has carved out the brand presence of a national chain while still maintaining the focus on individualized service that independents traditionally are known for.

And it’s certainly not all done with smoke and mirrors. The group, led by president Tim Canning, has built a broad menu of tools, technology and clinically oriented health-and-wellness services for its customers, as well as a range of capabilities that give it some of the national branding, marketing and purchasing strength of a corporately owned pharmacy chain, and thus enabling its franchisees to compete against the big chains. Two strong examples of its big-brand presence are the TV ad campaign it kicked off in early 2010, which debuted against high-profile events like the Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics; and the company’s annual Health Mart Healthy Living Tour, which visited 80 stores in 18 states last year.

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PHARMACY

Assured announces reverse stock split

BY Alaric DeArment

FRISCO, Texas — Specialty pharmacy provider Assured Pharmacy will reduce its stock through a reverse stock split, the company said Thursday.

The company, which trades on the pink sheets but seeks to eventually be listed on a larger exchange, announced that it had filed an amendment to its articles of incorporation whereby it would convert every 180 shares of stock to a single stock, reducing the total number of shares of outstanding common stock from 416,200,000 to 2,321,222, while reducing authorized shares of common stock from 3 billion to 16,666,667.

Assured’s board authorized the reverse stock split, which will take effect on April 15.

“This reverse stock split is another step taken in furtherance of positioning the company to seek a listing on a senior stock exchange,” Assured CEO Robert DelVecchio said.

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Report: Alabama pharmacy’s water faucet contaminated with bacteria

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Nine people died in Alabama last month after taking a compounded injectable supplement contaminated with bacteria, according to published reports.

The New York Times reported that the patients died of infections with Serratia marcescens bacteria in hospitals after receiving the intravenously administered supplement total parenteral nutrition from the Birmingham, Ala.-based compounding pharmacy Meds IV Pharmacy.

The bacteria were in a water faucet that was used to clean the containers in which the supplement was mixed and the stirring device used to mix it, the Times reported.

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