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Research: Independent pharmacy closures slowing

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK — After several challenging years, exacerbated by the implementation of the Medicare prescription drug benefit, the rate of independent pharmacy closures has calmed; however, continued closures due to local circumstances are not to be unexpected, and could further hamper access to pharmaceutical services in rural places, according to recent research.

According to the Rural Policy Research Institute’s Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis, the number of independently owned rural pharmacies declined by 12.1% (from 7,624 to 6,700) between March 2003 and December 2013. While the overall trend during this period was downward, the sharpest decline occurred between 2007 and 2009, when the number of these pharmacies declined by 7.2%.

The analysis also found that the number of retail pharmacies that were the only pharmacy in the community declined fairly steadily between March 2003 and May 2009 (from 2,063 to 1,767) but has remained relatively unchanged since then, with 1,773 such pharmacies in December 2013.

“The effects of Medicare Part D were likely felt most sharply and directly in the early years of implementation (2005 to 2008). Lingering effects may be felt as part of overall financial stress on independently owned retail pharmacies and may contribute to closure. However, past research by the RUPRI Center has shown that the precipitating reasons for closure without replacement include other factors, such as retirement and difficulties recruiting a successor,” researchers said.

Researchers noted that the slowing of closures and loss of the only pharmacy in the community are “somewhat encouraging for maintaining the current level of access to pharmaceutical services in rural places,” the trend warrants continued surveillance, as further closures due to local circumstances will not come as a surprise.

“Loss of pharmacists in rural areas, particularly in areas where there was only one pharmacist in the community, can have serious implications for healthcare provision. Independent pharmacists (i.e., those that are not affiliated with a chain or franchise) are of particular concern, as they are more likely to operate in underserved and rural areas and face additional business challenges from their limited ability to negotiate with pharmacy benefit managers, drug wholesalers and health plans,” researchers said.

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Jelly Belly tacks on more flavor to Sport Beans line

BY Ryan Chavis

FAIRFIELD, Calif. — Jelly Belly is adding two new flavors to its line of Sport Beans Energizing Jelly Beans, a sports-performance jelly bean formulated to improve endurance for athletes. Juicy Pear and Green Apple varieties are made with real fruit juice and puree, and also are gluten-free, according to the company.
 
The two new flavors will join Lemon Lime, Orange, Berry and Fruit Punch, and the Extreme Sport Beans, a caffeinated variety. Each of the flavors is available in 100-calorie single-serving packets. Sport Beans are available in sporting goods stores, running and cycling shops and grocery store chains across the country. 
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Kroger recognized for supporting Hispanic suppiers with ‘Million Dollar Club’ selection

BY Antoinette Alexander

 

CINCINNATI — Kroger on Wednesday announced its membership in the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Million Dollar Club, marking the retailer’s fifth consecutive year of qualifying for membership.

Introduced by the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in 2010, the USHCC Million Dollar Club recognizes corporations that are leaders in supplier diversity and integrating Hispanic Business Enterprises into their sourcing and procurement process.
 
Corporations qualify by spending between $25 million to more than $500 million with Hispanic suppliers in the previous year. Kroger was inducted in the $250 to $500 million annual expenditure category.

"Kroger is honored to be selected as a Million Dollar Club member," stated Reuben Shaffer, Kroger's chief diversity officer. "We value our partnerships with diversity-owned suppliers because their products and services meet the needs of our customers, and because their businesses provide employment opportunities in our local communities."

Kroger currently spends nearly $2 billion annually with diversity businesses and remains a member of the Billion Dollar Roundtable.
 

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