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Piggly Wiggly to acquire locations from Southeastern Grocers

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Piggly Wiggly is making a move that will expand the brand’s presence in South Carolina and Georgia.

Three independent Piggly Wiggly store owners, in conjunction with C&S Wholesale Grocers, have entered into an agreement with Southeastern Grocers to acquire three Bi-Lo stores in South Carolina, and three Harveys Supermarkets in Georgia. This arrangement coincides with Southeastern Grocers’ restructuring support agreement announced on March 15, 2018.

The transactions, which must meet customary closing conditions, are expected to close by the end of April. Upon completing the transaction, the acquired stores will be rebranded under the Piggly Wiggly banner name.

Piggly Wiggly stores in South Carolina and Southeast Georgia are independently owned and operated, but they are supported and supplied by C&S Wholesale Grocers. Through this conversion, C&S will service 50 Piggly Wiggly locations across both states.

“Our independent owners are excited to grow their existing store count and expand the Piggly Wiggly brand in the Southeast,” said John Owens, VP of marketing and merchandising in the Southeast for C&S Wholesale Grocers.

Southeastern Grocers filed for bankruptcy protection on March 27.

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Walmart, Humana reportedly in early merger talks

BY DSN STAFF

Walmart and health insurer Humana reportedly are in early discussions regarding a possible merger, the Wall Street Journal is reporting. A potential merger, if it went through, would bring the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer even further into the healthcare space that it has pushed into with its pharmacies, Care Clinics, optical centers, lab testing services and Wellness Day events.

WSJ notes that while it’s unclear what terms the companies are discussing — or that a deal with even materialize — its sources said that talks include an acquisition, as well as a range of other options.

The discussions come in the wake of several high-profile moves by retailers to enter the healthcare space in more robust ways. December 2017 saw CVS Health and Aetna announce plans to merge — which has potential to bring together CVS Health’s store footprint and pharmacy benefits manager CVS Caremark with Aetna’s connected health tools and patient base. A Walmart-Humana merger also would combine a retail footprint with insurer tools and Humana’s in-house PBM at a time when payers are increasingly using PBMs as a way to control ballooning healthcare costs. Also fresh in the retail world’s mind is Amazon’s partnership with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase to create a healthcare company to provide coverage to the three companies’ employees — which came amid continued speculation that Amazon will soon get into the healthcare game.

Humana currently has 2.4 million Medicare Advantage members, according to its website, making it one of the nation’s largest provider of the plans. WSJ’s report notes that in addition to the roughly 17% market share of the Medicare Advantage market would offer Walmart a customer boon, alongside potential savings on the retailer’s health plan — it currently is the largest private employer in the country, with roughly 1.5 million U.S. employees.

To read the full report, click here.

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McKesson pledges $100M, creates foundation to fight opioid epidemic

BY Michael Johnsen

McKesson on Thursday pledged $100 million toward combating the opioid epidemic through the formation of a foundation dedicated to addressing the crisis.

“At McKesson, we are deeply concerned by the impact the opioid epidemic is having on families and communities across our nation. That’s why we are taking new steps to help combat the epidemic,” John Hammergren, chairman and CEO McKesson, said. “These new initiatives will provide additional tools to fight abuse, combat overprescribing and increase doctor and patient education. We believe our investment and continued actions can have a positive impact, particularly when done in partnership with others in the healthcare industry, as well as with government policymakers, administrators, and regulators.”

The new non-profit organization is expected to focus on education for patients, caregivers and providers, addressing key policy issues and increasing access to life-saving treatments, such as opioid overdose reversal medications. The foundation’s work will be overseen by a board comprised of a majority of outside directors including healthcare and subject matter experts.

Details on leadership, strategic priorities and criteria for giving will be announced in the coming months. This new foundation is distinct from McKesson’s existing non-profit foundation whose key focus is on supporting better care for cancer patients.

McKesson outlined five key areas that will inform the company’s work with pharmacies, policymakers, prescribers and manufacturers.

  • Expedite development of a national prescription safety-alert system. To identify patients who are at risk for opioid overuse, abuse, addiction or misuse, the company will invest in the development of a national system that uses prescription information to provide real-time alerts to pharmacists and, ultimately, prescribers, indicating when additional patient information may be needed before dispensing opioids. (Check out a video outlining the alert system here);
  • Facilitate e-prescribing. To reduce fraudulent or counterfeit prescriptions, during 2019 the company will stop selling opioids to customers who cannot accept e-prescribing of controlled substances and will engage with those customers who may need to make this transition. McKesson continues to advocate that Congress require mandatory e-prescribing of opioids;
  • Support limited-dose packaging. To make it easier for doctors to prescribe and pharmacists to dispense in smaller doses, and to reduce potential for unused product, the company will proactively engage with all opioid manufacturing partners this calendar year to develop plans for limited-dose packaging;
  • Fast-track distribution of new, non-opioid pain medications. To improve access to medicines, the company will work with manufacturing partners to facilitate immediate availability on a national basis of non-opioid pain medication once approved by FDA; and
  • Provide complimentary pharmacist training on opioid overdose reversal medications. The company will offer pharmacists complimentary training by independent medical experts on how to administer medications such as naloxone.

In addition, the company will develop and make available an annual report that examines the progress of these company initiatives with the purpose of sharing learnings and insights with the public.

 

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