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Kerr Drug promotes Mark Gregory to SVP store operations

BY Alaric DeArment

RALEIGH, N.C. — Kerr Drug has promoted Mark Gregory to SVP store operations, effectively immediately, the regional retail pharmacy chain said Monday.

Gregory, who was previously VP pharmacy and government affairs, will report directly to president and CEO Anthony Civello. He also is the company’s privacy officer and chairman of its political action committee.

"Mark has extraordinary depth of intellect and experience in every facet of community pharmacy, from educational and legislative issues to operations and administrative policies," Civello said. "He has been a primary voice in the retail pharmacy landscape for decades and has made significant impact at the national level on a multitude of issues."

Gregory was a pharmacist for 11 years when he became manager of pharmacy systems and third-party programs at Pittsburgh-based Thrift Drug Co. He also served briefly in pharmacy operations at Eckerd following that company’s acquisition of Thrift Drug.

He also has served as president of the North Carolina Association of Pharmacists and as chairman of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ policy council and is currently chairman of the executive committee of the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association.

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WAG fires another salvo in bid to outflank ESI

BY Jim Frederick

Another quality regional drug chain is about to be a memory.

Walgreens scored another expansion coup last week with its announcement that it will absorb Pine Bluff, Ark.-based USA Drug, ranked No. 31 in sales on the DSN PoweRx list of the nation’s top 50 pharmacy retailers. The deal, valued at $438 million, includes all of the storied holdings owned by founder and pharmacist Stephen LaFrance, including 144 stores in Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee; corporate offices; the company’s big and highly automated distribution center in Pine Bluff; and the wholesale and private-label business owned by Stephen L. LaFrance Holdings and members of the LaFrance family.

For Walgreens, the deal is the latest in a series of strategic moves in the wake of a costly dispute with pharmacy benefit management giant Express Scripts over the pharmacy benefit manager’s contract reimbursement rate. Since the service contract between the two entities expired in January, effectively shifting prescription and front-end business away from the chain’s 7,980 drug stores, Walgreens has seen a significant reduction in both sales and earnings.

Its most recent financial results, for the third quarter of fiscal 2012, underscore the impact. For the three-month period ended May 31, net earnings for Walgreens dropped 10.8% from the same period last year, to $537 million, with sales down 3.4%. Prescription sales slid 6.6% on a company-wide basis and a sobering 9.9% in stores open more than a year. Absent Express Scripts’ fulfillment contract, Walgreens filled 192 million scripts in the three-month period, a decrease of 8.4% from the prior-year third quarter.

Nevertheless, it looks like Walgreens is rising to the challenge. For one thing, it’s clear that the retail pharmacy giant is holding firm in its refusal to participate in unprofitable PBM fulfillment contracts, even at a real cost to its top and bottom lines [a decision which has won the company praise from small-scale pharmacy operators without the clout to stand up to PBM take-it-or-leave it terms]. For another, the company has repeatedly signaled its determination to move on with or without ESI.

How? In part by bypassing the PBM route and going directly to employers and other health plan sponsors with a growing menu of easily accessible health and pharmacy services, and in part by building up its pharmacy network through purchases like USA Drug that company strategists hope will make Walgreens almost impossible for any PBM to ignore when putting together local provider networks.

Drug Store News‘ Michael Johnson does a fine job of analyzing the ramifications of the buyout for Walgreens as it works to regain its equilibrium and growth momentum without the millions of Express Scripts members no longer filling their prescriptions at the chain. But are there enough other successful regional pharmacy players out there as potential takeover candidates in other markets to make that strategy viable on a national level?

And will all of Walgreens’ moves be enough to overcome the loss of ESI’s millions of patients?

Only time will tell. What do you think?

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Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy unveils full beauty experience

BY Michael Johnsen

BOULDER, Colo. — Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy on Monday unveiled its new Natural Beauty Bar department at its Pacific Palisades location. Offering a variety of spa services, the Natural Beauty Bar serves as an expansion of Pharmaca’s beauty offerings with waxing and threading services and makeup and lash applications, among other services.

"We’re thrilled to be extending our hands-on practitioner model from skin care and makeup expertise to these beauty services," said Tiana Ukleja, Pharmaca’s health and beauty category manager. "The Natural Beauty Bar was conceived in response to an increasing demand from customers for waxing and cosmetic services that utilize salon-quality skin care and cosmetics, Ukleja said. “These are services that women used to have to go elsewhere for. We hope that they’ll take advantage of being able to pick up their favorite beauty products and get a brow wax, all-in-one spot."
 


The 1,000-sq.-ft. Natural Beauty Bar centers around two areas: the brow bar, including two chairs for waxing and threading services, and the makeup area, with four chairs available for makeup application and makeovers. The bar is surrounded by Pharmaca’s selection of natural skin care and cosmetics from such brands as Jane Iredale, Dr. Hauschka, Evanhealy and Suki.

Customers who spend $100 on cosmetics or facial care products at Pharmaca will receive a complimentary mini-makeover at the Natural Beauty Bar. Additionally, members of Pharmaca’s Feel Better Rewards loyalty program can take advantage of a frequent buyer program: For every five brow shaping services they purchase (either waxing or threading), they’ll receive a sixth for free.

To kick off the opening of the Natural Beauty Bar, Pharmaca will host grand opening festivities July 27 through July 29.

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