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MinuteClinic hits milestone, continues to drive utilization

BY Antoinette Alexander

MINNEAPOLIS —MinuteClinic has shifted much of its efforts to driving utilization, and the results are paying off as the clinic operator hit a milestone during the second quarter and serviced its 4 millionth customer. Furthermore, traffic at the roughly 500 clinics was up 51% for the quarter, as comp visits rose 33% year-to-date.

While the numbers are impressive, Tom Ryan, chairman, president and CEO of CVS Caremark, has indicated that the hard work is far from over. Utilization is, and will continue to be, a major focus for MinuteClinic as it expands its service offerings and takes an even greater role in healthcare reform.

“The challenge for MinuteClinic is to drive utilization, and that’s where we are focused,” Ryan told analysts during the company’s Aug. 4 second-quarter conference call. “You are going to see it with the new leadership in the program. Andrew Sussman is going to work with [Troyen Brennan, EVP and chief medical officer]; we’re working with health plans, we’re working with physician groups, but the real rate-limiting step here is utilization.”

As previously reported by Drug Store News, Sussman was named president and COO of MinuteClinic and SVP and associate chief medical officer of CVS Caremark. He succeeds Chip Phillips, who now serves as president of TheraCom, a CVS Caremark company that provides support to biotech and pharmaceutical manufacturers. Sussman, who joined the company this month, is responsible for all clinical services and daily operations at MinuteClinic. He also will take charge of the continued development of MinuteClinic in retail healthcare services.

Ryan said MinuteClinic will further drive utilization by getting more third-party plans and offering more services. As it stands, the company added more than 16 million lives to its network during the second quarter, and 80% of its visits in the quarter were third-party paid. However, MinuteClinic will continue to look to grow in network-covered lives as utilization rises when people have coverage.

“[MinuteClinic] is a microcosm of what you want in healthcare reform,” he said. “It’s accessible, it’s affordable and it’s good quality, which are all the things that the administration and Congress were talking about.”

CVS Caremark is investing 5 cents to 6 cents of diluted earnings per share in MinuteClinic and expects it to be less of an investment in 2010 and even less in 2011. The company expects to break even in early 2012, or possibly sooner.

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Stop & Shop to offer flu shots to customers

BY Allison Cerra

QUINCY, Mass. For more than twenty years, Stop & Shop has provided seasonal flu shots as part of its Health & Wellness initiative in a continuing effort to best meet the needs of its customersduring the cough and cold season. This year, Stop & Shop will offer seasonal influenza immunizations at a reduced price to Stop & Shop card holders in the pharmacy department beginning Sept. 11 through Nov. 26 or until quantities associated with this program last.

“As part of our continued commitment to provide value to our customers, Stop & Shop is offering seasonal flu shots for $20 when customers use their Stop & Shop card,” said Jim Wonderly, VP pharmacy operations for Stop & Shop. “Unfortunately, many Americans are foregoing medical care because of increased costs, and we want to do our part by offering affordable immunizations during these challenging economic times.”

Seasonal flu shots will be administered at a reduced price in most Stop & Shop stores starting Friday, expanding to all stores in October. Immunizations will be provided by certified and trained Stop & Shop pharmacists and through Stop & Shop’s partnership with Maxim Health Systems and their trained health care professionals. The cost of the seasonal immunization is $30, but customers with a Stop & Shop loyalty card can save an additional $10. Thus, the final cost to Stop & Shop customers, with the Card, is $20.

“Last month, we introduced millions of customers to the new Stop & Shop card along with a commitment to provide them with the best possible value,” said Stop & Shop EVP Jeff Martin. “With the savings Stop & Shop is offering on seasonal flu shots, we are demonstrating that ongoing value commitment as well as a commitment to the health and wellness of ourcustomers.”

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Louisiana seeks to curb methamphetamine abuse with new legislation

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. Two government officials from Louisiana invited the National Association of Chain Drug Stores for a signing of a new law aimed at curbing methamphetamine abuse.

On Sept. 8, Gov. Bobby Jindal and Rep. Fred Mills invited NACDS, law enforcement and other select stakeholders to the Governor’s Mansion for a special signing ceremony for HB890 (Act 314). NACDS was instrumental in the negotiations and eventual passage of the new law which establishes a real-time pseudoephedrine reporting system once federal grants are secured.

The law also provides liability protections to pharmacy, and specifically states that no fees will be collected from pharmacies or pharmacists to operate or transmit the data to state police.

NACDS thanked both Gov. Jindal and Rep. Mills for initiating this important legislation, and for working with pharmacies to make it even better.

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