PHARMACY

In Michigan, Walmart tests $10 offer for 90-day generic drugs, mailed free

BY Jim Frederick

BENTONVILLE, Ark. Walmart expanded its pioneering generic drug discount program — a game-changer in the competition for the nation’s price-driven prescription business when it was announced in fall 2006 — with a new pilot program in Michigan that includes free mail delivery of 90-day supplies of me-too medications.

Beginning Tuesday, consumers in the state can call 1-800-2REFILL to order a 90-day supply of 300 generic prescriptions, each for $10 via free mail delivery. No membership or enrollment fees are required, the company said.

By extending its generic discount offer to consumers in Michigan who don’t live within easy reach of a Walmart pharmacy, the company is adding a new and potentially potent ingredient to an already hugely successful promotion.

“When we launched our $4 prescription program in 2006, it truly changed the pharmacy landscape,” asserted Dr. John Agwunobi, Walmart’s president of the health and wellness division. “So we asked ourselves ‘what more can we do?’ and vowed to continue looking for opportunities that would bring greater value and convenience to consumers.”

Agwunobi called the $10 mail delivery prescription offer “a reflection of Walmart’s commitment to drive unnecessary costs out of the health care system.”

In addition to the generic medicines offered at $10, Walmart is also offering Michigan consumers free mail delivery of more than 3,000 other brand and generic prescriptions.

If Walmart maintains the strategy it followed with its rapid rollout of the initial $4 promotion for 30-day supplies of generic drugs in 2006, the expansion of the Michigan pilot project to other states could come relatively quickly.

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New details emerge on NACDS realignment

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. The National Association of Chain Drug Stores Monday revealed further details of a sweeping management realignment and staff reduction. The announcement followed the organization’s first revelation on Thursday, April 30, that it was undertaking a streamlining and consolidation to shed operating costs in a difficult economy, and to respond more effectively to member needs in a shifting political and healthcare environment.

The overhaul includes the consolidation of some departments and a reduction of 15 filled full-time positions, from 92 to 77, or 16%.

Among the NACDS staff members leaving under the reorganization are Fitz Elder, VP of member relations and chief member relations officer; Phil Schneider, VP external relations and president of the NACDS Foundation; and membership coordinator Conchi Vallecillo. All three are taking voluntary retirement, NACDS revealed, and their positions “will not be refilled.”

A dozen other staff members are also headed for the exits, and their positions are being eliminated, according to the organization. They include Kate Crummett, manager of meetings and special events; senior graphic designer Kerrin Cuison; director of technology standards Michele Davidson; IT support specialist David Dorsey and Dan Faoro, VP communications production and strategic marketing.

Also leaving are Resource Center coordinator Marcy Gascoine; Ashley Matthews, coordinator of conference services and exhibits; membership coordinator Teresa Muldrow; Steve Poston, director of IT and facility services; web/database applications specialist Bikrum Saluja, director of policy and programs Christina Thompson; and Lisa White, manager of meetings and international affairs.

On Thursday, NACDS termed the staff cutbacks “very difficult” but necessary in the current economic downturn. The changes, noted the group, are “part of a comprehensive, multi-year plan to refocus and realign…activities and programs” to make NACDS more responsive to its members’ goals and current market realities.

In line with the streamlining effort, NACDS has grouped its 77-member team and its activities under six senior executives, all of who report to president and CEO Steven Anderson. They include:

  • Finance and Accounting, human resources and administration and information services, headed by EVP and CFO Jim Huber;
  • Membership, meetings and exhibits and international affairs, under the direction of Jim Whitman, SVP meetings and exhibits;
  • Federal and state policy and programs, headed by Carol Kelly, SVP government affairs and public policy;
  • Legal affairs, under SVP legal affairs and general counsel Don Bell;
  • Pharmacy affairs, pharmacy education and the NACDS Foundation, headed by Edith Rosato, SVP pharmacy affairs;
  • Media relations, member communications and Internet activities, under Chris Krese, SVP marketing, communications and media relations.

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Antibiotic voluntarily recalled by Ranbaxy

BY Alaric DeArment

PRINCETON, N.J. All supplies of an antibiotic will be recalled amid concerns that it could cause nausea and vomiting.

Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals announced last week that it would voluntarily recall all lots of the drug Nitrofurantoin (monohydrate and macrocrystals) capsules in the 100-mg strength.

The company said some lots were defective, but decided to recall all lots as a precaution. The company, based in Gurgaon, India, said it is conducting the recall in coordination with the Food and Drug Administration at the retail level. Recalled lots of the drug are unlikely to produce serious adverse effects, Ranbaxy said, but a remote possibility exists of nausea and vomiting. The company said patients using the drug should consult their physicians about alternative medication options.

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