Life after Kinray
WHITESTONE, N.Y. — Call him “Stewie Rah Rah.” He doesn’t mind. Stewart Rahr, the man in the bright yellow sunglasses who led Kinray to become the nation’s top independently owned pharmaceutical wholesaler, soon will have more time for his other interests.
In November, Kinray struck a $1.3 billion deal to merge with Cardinal Health. The buyout, expected to be finalized by spring, will end one of the most colorful and successful chapters in the annals of the drug distribution industry. Rahr, the son of a pharmacist, worked at his dad’s drug store and dropped out of law school to help build the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based drug distribution business his father founded as Kinray in 1944.
Beginning as a tiny local operation doing less than $1 million in distribution revenues in the mid-1970s, today Kinray has grown to a 400,000-sq.-ft. distribution center at its Whitestone, N.Y., campus, generating $3.6 billion in annual revenues and employing some 800 people. Its loyal customer base includes some 2,000 independent pharmacy customers, many of who operate in the New York/New Jersey metro area, but some of who order generics and other supplies from Kinray from as far as the western United States.
Kinray’s success can be tied directly to Rahr’s insistence on a culture of personal, highly responsive service and rapid order turnaround; pharmacy owners know they can pick up the phone and directly call Kinray’s CEO if there’s a problem. Rahr also was an early adopter of high-tech fulfillment capabilities.
As Kinray grew, so, too, did its CEO’s personal fortune. Prior to the Cardinal deal, Forbes magazine estimated Rahr’s fortune at $2.1 billion and named him No. 170 on its list of the 400 wealthiest Americans. Some of that money goes to charity. A well-known philanthropist, Rahr heavily donates to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Robin Hood Foundation, the Christopher Reeves Coalition, Citymeals-on-Wheels, many health advocacy and research groups, the Israeli Defense Fund and victims of 9/11. Besides lending time and funding to the move to draft Donald Trump as a presidential contender, Rahr also is rumored to be considering buying an NBA team.
Researchers find link between heart attacks, Alzheimer’s
BOLOGNA, Italy — Data from a new study by scientists in Italy could help physicians calculate patients’ risks for Alzheimer’s disease and heart attacks. Researchers at the University of Bologna said they found a common genetic link between heart attacks and Alzheimer’s, according to results of a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
The researchers examined the DNA of 1,800 people, including 280 who had experienced heart attacks, 257 with Alzheimer’s and a control group of 1,307 healthy people. Organizing participants into six groups — with groups one through three classified as low risk, and groups four through six classified as high risk — the researchers focused on groups four and six, which were classified as having a high risk of suffering heart attacks and developing Alzheimer’s. These two groups had shown a common genetic predisposition for both diseases, and the researchers found the predisposition in 30% of heart attack sufferers and 40% of those with Alzheimer’s.
“Until now, we only knew about individual genes linked to both diseases, and this was not sufficient to develop an individual test for the risk,” University of Bologna immunologist and lead study author Federico Licastro stated. “However, we have now been able to identify a genetic profile of several genes partially common to both diseases. This is the leap in quality that now enables us to conduct a test and assess a profile partially specific to both diseases.”
The researchers conceded that one of the techniques used could be controversial. To study participants’ DNA, they used a statistical method known as grade of membership analysis. While it has been applied to such diseases as mental disorders and cancers, the international scientific community still is debating its use. “However, it is only by using such statistical analyses that such diseases can be tested, conducting tests on only a few hundred cases,” Licastro said. “Classical statistics would require us to test 10, 12 or even 20 or 30 thousand cases.”
Pharmaca continues to expand its wellness-pharmacy fusion
BOULDER, Colo. — Now 10 years operating its unique footprint in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy has been revving its growth engine lately. Pharmaca is targeting three new store openings in 2011, and between three and six new stores each year through 2015 — a pace that would put the chain at 44 locations in time for its 15th anniversary. “We will be expanding outside of the states in which we currently operate in the future,” said Mark Panzer, Pharmaca president and CEO.
In November, Pharmaca unveiled its latest store design in Menlo Park, Calif. That new store refreshes the concept that has propelled Pharmaca’s success in the past decade — a melding of Eastern and Western wellness philosophies with actual licensed healthcare professionals on hand to answer any questions. Last year that formula helped increase sales by 9% to $88 million.
Even Pharmaca’s senior management team hails from opposite ends of the retail spectrum. Chairman Barry Perzow operated Capers Natural Food Markets before founding Pharmaca, and VP marketing/innovation Laura Coblentz came to Pharmaca by way of Whole Foods. Panzer was recruited to Pharmaca from Rite Aid, and David Janowicz, VP merchandising, is a Supervalu vet.