PHARMACY

Retail leaders gearing up for NACDS’ annual pharmacy pow-wow in San Diego

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. Representatives of more than 130 retail pharmacy chains are gearing up for the 53rd annual pharmacy event hosted by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores late this month.

The NACDS 2010 Pharmacy and Technology Conference, set for Aug. 28 to 31 at the San Diego Convention Center, will draw pharmacy executives representing most of the nation’s chain drug store, supermarket and mass merchant pharmacies. Together, those operators will comprise more than 80,000 retail outlets and more than $200 billion in annual sales for prescription drugs, over-the-counter products, and home healthcare services, according to NACDS.

The four-day gathering will be packed with how-to business content, idea brainstorming and talks from highly placed political and policymaking leaders. Among those who will address the event’s three business programs: CVS Caremark president and COO Larry Merlo, who also is NACDS chairman; NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson; Hy-Vee VP pharmacy Bob Egeland; and Doug Long, VP industry relations for IMS Health. The conference will also play host to keynote speakers Dana Perino, political commentator and former White House press secretary in President George W. Bush’s administration; and David Cutler, Harvard University professor of applied economics and an advisor to President Obama’s presidential campaign.

Cutler, noted NACDS, “will offer poignant perspectives on healthcare and the economy.”

Also on tap: the “Meet the Retailer” program giving suppliers a perspective from their retailer counterparts on the most effective ways for them to market their product or service; and the annual “Meet the Rx Market” event, a rapid-fire series of 10-minute, timed meetings designed to bring together retailers and suppliers to focus on new products and services. The conference will also offer attendees 17 education sessions covering “the latest on state-of-the-art pharmacy operations, practice and clinical issues, distribution and marketing,” according to the organization.

“The opportunities for attendees are unique, from top-notch programming to strategic meetings with key decision-makers,” Anderson asserted. “This is a power-packed three-day agenda that is a must-attend for industry leaders.”

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Merck discloses Q2 earnings

BY Alaric DeArment

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. Merck had global sales of $11.3 billion and profits of $752 million during second quarter 2010, according to an earnings report the drug maker released Friday. Sales and profits for the first six months of the year were $22.8 billion and $1.05 billion, respectively.

Those numbers compared with sales and profits of $5.9 billion and $1.6 billion in second quarter 2009, and $11.3 billion and $2.9 billion for the first six months of 2009. The changes reflect Merck’s purchase of Schering-Plough.

Several of Merck’s products had strong global sales during the period. The autoimmune disease drug Remicade (infliximab) had sales of $669 million during the quarter, while Merck also launched the once-monthly autoimmune treatment Simponi (golimumab). The cardiovascular drugs Zetia (ezetimibe) and Vytorin (ezetimibe and simvastatin) had sales of $564 million and $490 million, respectively. The Type 2 diabetes drug Januvia (sitagliptin) had $600 million in sales during second quarter 2010, a 30% increase over second quarter 2009 sales, while Janumet (sitagliptin and metformin hydrochloride) had sales of $218 million. The HIV drug Isentress (raltegravir) had sales of $267 million, a 55% increase over second quarter 2009, while the hepatitis C drug Pegintron (peginterferon alfa-2b) had sales of $185 million.

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Online pharmacy provider, advocacy group partner to deliver low-cost meds in Ohio

BY Jim Frederick

CINCINNATI A nonprofit health advocacy group in Ohio has teamed up with a fast-growing mail-order pharmacy to launch a new and potentially expandable program to provide low-cost prescription drugs to underserved residents in southwest Ohio.

The new effort comes from Health Care Access Now, an Ohio nonprofit set up to healthcare access and delivery to lower-income and elderly residents of greater Cincinnati, and HealthWarehouse.com, Inc., an VIPPS-certified online mail-order prescription provider. Residents who qualify for the program will be able to purchase 300 medications for $3.50, with free delivery to their home or apartment.

The partnership will target 20 counties in southwest Ohio, northern Kentucky and southeastern Indiana, with a combined population of 2.2 million people. Health Care Access Now estimates that roughly 11% of the region’s population lacks access to a regular healthcare provider, and to affordable options for their medications.

“Like many areas in the United States, over the last 24 months Cincinnati has seen an increase in the number of individuals who have lost health-insurance benefits or can no longer afford co-pays for medications,” noted HealthWarehouse in a statement. The company said it will make prescription and over-the-counter medications available to metro Cincinnati residents “through a variety of care coordination community-based healthcare providers.”

Judith Warren, executive director of Health Care Access Now, noted, “Nonprofit health providers are always in need of support … this partnership supports our mutual goal of expanding resources to serve more communities.”

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