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NACDS aligns with Congress to quash rogue Internet pharmacies

BY Jim Frederick

WASHINGTON —Efforts in Congress to target the illegal sale and abuse of pharmaceuticals online have drawn strong support from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. But the group urged caution as lawmakers eye tougher regulations against rogue Internet pharmacies.

Taking point on the issue is the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Intellectual Property. Responding to growing alarm over the online sale of powerful and potentially dangerous prescription medicines without supervision or oversight by doctors or dispensing pharmacists, the subcommittee held a hearing June 24 titled, “Online Pharmacies and the Problem of Internet Drug Abuse.”

In written testimony, NACDS praised the House panel for its effort to combat the problem and pledged the support of its roughly 200 chain and 1,000 supplier company members. “We commend you [for] holding this important hearing on online pharmacies and the problem of Internet drug abuse,” NACDS stated. “These rogue Internet sites, both domestic and foreign, are engaged in a pattern of illegal activity regarding the prescribing and dispensing of prescription medications. They are in violation of state and federal laws governing the legitimate prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances.”

The group pledged “to work with Congress to eliminate these illegal Internet suppliers from the market and protect patient health.”

However, NACDS expressed a need for caution as lawmakers consider new and tougher regulations to control rogue sites. The group urged Congress “to develop a uniform regulatory approach that targets illegal, rogue sites without overburdening legitimate, state-licensed pharmacies that have Internet sites.”

In line with that approach, NACDS beseeched the panel “to develop policies that narrowly target illegal Internet drug sellers, rather than creating duplicative regulations and unnecessary administrative burdens on state-licensed brick-and-mortar pharmacies with Internet sites.

“We believe that rogue Internet sites can be effectively targeted without granting new authority to federal agencies to regulate the practice of pharmacy, which has traditionally been the authority of the states,” the group noted.

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CVS Caremark to expand headquarters, add positions

BY Antoinette Alexander

WOONSOCKET, R.I. CVS Caremark has announced expansion plans for its headquarters over the next two years, a move that will help support the company’s continued growth and current hiring expectations of more than 200 new positions on its corporate campus.

The nature of the new jobs was not disclosed. In Rhode Island, the company currently employs 5,800 associates.

The plans are to build two new 150,000-square-foot office facilities in the Highland Corporate Park in Cumberland, R.I. The company has been based in Highland Corporate Park, which is jointly located in Cumberland and Woonsocket, since 1982. The company significantly expanded its customer support center facilities in 1988 and again in 2000.

“Our company was founded in Rhode Island more than 40 years ago and we feel fortunate to be able to continually reinvest in our home state,” stated Tom Ryan, chairman, president and chief executive officer. “As the largest company in Rhode Island we are looking to further expand our base of operations to support our continued growth and, as a result, increase our workforce over the next few years.”

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A&P announces fiscal Q1 improvements

BY Antoinette Alexander

MONTVALE, N.J. A&P, which operates 446 stores under such banners as A&P, Pathmark and Waldbaum’s, announced on Friday improved results for the first quarter as it nears the completion of the Pathmark integration.

“The first quarter of 2008 clearly demonstrates our continuing progression in operating improvement with the achievement of our fourth straight quarter of comparable store sales of over 3 percent,” stated Eric Claus, president and chief executive officer. “Further, Pathmark is already achieving positive results with comparable store sales climbing above 3 percent for the first time in many years. The company is also well underway with the completion of the Pathmark integration, as many of the planned milestones have been achieved. As of the end of the first quarter, our annualized run-rate of synergies is approximately $100 million.”

Sales for the quarter totaled $2.9 billion compared with $1.7 billion in the year-ago period. Same-store sales rose 3.2 percent, which excludes sales for Pathmark stores acquired in December 2007. Same-store sales for Pathmark, measured during the same period, rose 3.1 percent.

Net income from continuing operations was $3.8 million, with a net loss per diluted share of 48 cents after adjusting for non-operating income related to fair value adjustments. This compares with income of $61.4 million, or $1.45 per diluted share, in the year-ago period.

The company did not break out pharmacy sales results.

As previously reported by Drug Store News, the company announced during the quarter an integral step in its transformation—the conversion of the majority of SuperFresh stores in the Philadelphia market to the recently premiered Price Impact format under the Pathmark Sav-A-Center banner and a number of SuperFresh locations retaining the Fresh format with significant upgrades.

Also during the quarter, the supermarket chain completed the remodel of A&P Fresh in Holmdel, N.J., to the updated Fresh format and began remodeling additional stores. The company also premiered its Price Impact format in the Irvington and Edison Pathmark stores.

“The remainder of fiscal 2008 will be focused on progressing the company further toward operating profitability by: moving forward our operating and aggressive merchandising strategies; maintaining cost control and reduction disciplines throughout the business. Integral to our drive to profitability is the continued and ongoing execution of capital improvement projects all geared for maximum return, and particularly weighted to value propositions,” stated Claus.

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