PHARMACY

MSI delivers specialized services, purchasing power

BY Alaric DeArment

Medicine Shoppe International
General Manager: Terry Burnside
Corp. Offices: St. Louis
Number of Members/Stores: 790
Web page: www.medicineshoppe.com

In its 41-year history, Medicine Shoppe International has become one of the most widespread names in the retail pharmacy business, with franchises as far away as Taiwan, India and the Middle East.

But despite its heft at 800 Medicine Shoppe and Medicap Pharmacy stores, The Medicine Shoppe’s model differs significantly from that of traditional retail pharmacy chains. When pharmacist Michael Busch opened the first store in St. Louis in 1968, he envisioned a franchising system whereby pharmacists run the business rather than vice versa. And today, 40 years later, the Medicine Shoppe model has evolved to differ significantly from even Busch’s original vision. In fact, there is no one, set Medicine Shoppe model since the company began rolling out its specialized care center concept in recent years.

In April 2008, Medicine Shoppe opened its 100th Specialized Care Center for patients with diabetes, also called SCC-Diabetes, where diabetes patients receive education and counseling from pharmacists with certification as diabetes managers.

In October, MSI announced that Medicine Shoppe and Medicap Pharmacy stores would offer year-round immunizations for flu, pneumonia, shingles and some seasonal and travel vaccines through its Specialized Care Centers for immunizations, located in 350 of its stores.

The wide range of services earned MSI the highest ranking in J.D. Powers and Associates’ 2008 study of retail chain pharmacy customer satisfaction for the second year in a row.

“Our pharmacies excel in providing excellent service and knowledgeable consultation,” an MSI spokeswoman said.

The company would not divulge sales data, but the spokeswoman said the focus of its growth is on growing existing pharmacies.

Despite a string of store closures in recent years resulting from store operators not renewing their franchises, she said there had “not really” been any closures lately, but that growth had not come only from the United States.

“Most of our growth has come from our international stores,” she said.

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PHARMACY

Rhode Island develops prescription savings program for residents

BY Alaric DeArment

PROVIDENCE, R.I. Residents of Rhode Island can save an average 30% on prescription drugs using a card issued to them free of charge.

The card, RIRx, is similar to prescription drug cards issued in several states already through a non-profit program administered by United Networks of America. The cards are accepted at more than 54,000 national and regional pharmacies, according to the program’s Web site, www.FreeDrugCard.us.

The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce will seek to create awareness and distribute the cards.

“The cost of healthcare is a top concern for Rhode Island’s residents,” chamber president Laurie White stated. “With unemployment on the rise, due to the stalling economy, many individuals and families are finding themselves without health insurance.”

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Anti-crime measures in Congress win strong endorsement from NACDS

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON Congress is moving on two fronts to combat organized crime against pharmacies and other retailers, generating strong praise from chain pharmacy leaders.

The National Association of Chain Drug Stores Friday issued a letter to Reps. Brad Ellsworth, D-Ind., and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, in support of their introduction of H.R. 1173, the Organized Retail Crime Act of 2009. The bill would define organized retail crime and expand fraud statutes to include the illegal use of gift cards, Universal Product Code labels, or radio identification transponders.

The Ellsworth-Jordan bill also recommends that the United States Sentencing Commission review and amend the sentencing guidelines for convicted organized retail crime offenders.

H.R. 1173 has gained bi-partisan backing from co-sponsors including Reps. Arthur Davis, an Alabama Democrat, and Republicans James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin, John Kline of Minnesota and Mike Rogers of Michigan.

“This strong bipartisan legislation will help to stem the growing problem of organized retail crime, by providing much needed clarity within the U.S. criminal code to prosecute such criminal behavior as a federal felony, including facilitation of such illegal activities,” NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson told lawmakers in his letter Friday. “As you know, organized retail crime is responsible for over $30 billion in losses annually, resulting in increased costs for merchants, higher prices for consumers, and lost tax revenue for state and local governments. In addition to increased costs faced by retailers to cover losses and investment in additional security measures, consumers are placed at risk when package tampering occurs on consumer health care products, such as infant formula and OTC medications.”

NACDS, Anderson pointed out, “has long advocated for federal legislation that treats theft committed by organized, professional crime rings as a federal felony, especially since much of the stolen product is transported across state lines.”

Besides arming federal law enforcement officials with “the authority to pursue and prosecute individuals who engage in such criminal activities,” Anderson noted, the Ellsworth-Jordan bill “also targets criminals’ use of online marketplaces to sell the fruits of organized retail crime to unsuspecting consumers and establishes specific and narrow obligations for operators of online marketplaces.”

The chain pharmacy organization also endorsed H.R. 1166, the E-Fencing Enforcement Act of 2009. In a letter sent Friday to Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., who is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, Anderson thanked Scott for introducing the measure.

“Your legislation will help to stem the growing problem of the use of online marketplaces by criminals to redistribute stolen merchandise, including those obtained through organized retail crime,” Anderson told the lawmaker.

H.R. 1166 would prosecute the electronic fencing of stolen products, and empower retailers to seek relief against high-volume sellers who engage in the e-fencing of stolen merchandise.

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