PHARMACY

Ralphs cuts generic drug prices

BY Adam Kraemer

LOS ANGELES Ralphs Friday announced that it has launched a generic drug pricing program in 90 Southern California area locations.

The new program, which started April 4, will offer hundreds of the most common generic medicines, used to treat illnesses such as diabetes, thyroid conditions, infections, asthma and cardiovascular diseases, at $4 per prescription for up to a 30-day supply at commonly prescribed dosages. Consumers can visit www.ralphs.com/generic or call 1-877-4RX-LIST (1-877-479-5478). to get the full list of drugs and participating locations.

“We’re pleased to offer Ralphs customers an affordable alternative to meet their health and medication needs,” said Mike Donnelly, president of Ralphs. “Our customers can take advantage of low prices on generic drugs while continuing to rely on the expert, professional counsel of our pharmacists.”

Ralphs is also offering generic versions of the family planning drugs Ortho Cyclen and Ortho Tri Cyclen in a 28-day supply, as well as a fertility drug for $9.

“People wanting to take advantage of our generic drug program can easily make arrangements to transfer their prescriptions by calling participating Ralphs pharmacies,” Donnelly said.

Ralphs, based in Los Angeles, was founded in 1873 and currently operates 266 supermarkets in California and employs 25,000 associates.

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PHARMACY

Rite Aid posts sales increase for March

BY Michael Johnsen

CAMP HILL, Pa. Rite Aid on Thursday reported a same-store sales increase of 2.6 percent (which does not yet include the Brooks/Eckerd acquired stores) for the four weeks ended March 29.

Pharmacy same-store sales increased 1 percent, which included an approximate 493 basis points negative impact from new generic introductions. Front-end same-store sales were up 5.7 percent. March same store sales were positively affected by a shift to a March Easter this year from an April Easter last year (March 23 this year as compared to April 8 last year).

Total drug store sales for the four-week period increased 50.7 percent to $2 billion. Prescription revenue accounted for 67.6 percent of drugstore sales, and third party prescription revenue represented 96.2 percent of pharmacy sales.

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FDA grants orphan designation for MELAS syndrome drug

BY Diana Alickaj

WASHINGTON Sirtris Pharmaceuticals has been granted orphan drug designation for resveratrol by the Food and Drug Administration, according to published reports.

Resveratrol is a drug used to treat MELAS syndrome, a progressive fatal aging disease that produces symptoms of muscle weakness, fatigue, recurrent headaches and seizures. The government’s grant is usually offered in cases in which companies are discovering treatments for rare drugs, and the grant would allow the company to speed up their testing period.

Sitris has decided to focus on the SIRT1 gene, which is a gene tied to the aging process. SIRT1 is being studied as a possible source in treating MELAS or type 2 diabetes. According to published reports, the grant has resulted in Sitris being offered seven years of marketing exclusivity for its formulation of resveratrol.

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