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Ryan: Discount generics a response to economy, not competition

BY DSN STAFF

WOONSOCKET, R.I. —Looking to help uninsured patients struggling in today’s economic downturn, CVS Caremark has entered the discount generic drug program arena.

“We haven’t seen a material share loss to our competitor’s $4 generic program and that is still the case today, so the obvious question is, ‘Why now?’” Tom Ryan, CVS Caremark chairman, president and chief executive officer, told analysts during an Oct. 30 conference call to discuss third-quarter results and announce the program. “We are in the middle of an understated, difficult economic crisis to say the least. People are struggling with healthcare costs more than ever before, especially the under- and uninsured, and we felt it was the right time to offer a differentiated, affordable option.”

The program, which kicked off Nov. 9, enables consumers who obtain a CVS/pharmacy Health Savings Pass to fill a 90-day prescription for one of more than 400 common generic maintenance medications for $9.99 at a CVS pharmacy. The program has a $10 annual enrollment fee. Under the program, customers can earn CVS Extra Bucks with their Health Savings Pass.

In addition, the Savings Pass provides access to services and screenings at CVS’ MinuteClinic locations at a 10 percent discount for cash-paying patients.

At the end of the third quarter ended Sept. 27, the company operated 541 MinuteClinic locations in 27 states. By year-end, CVS expects to operate about 560 clinics. In other MinuteClinic news, Ryan noted during the call with analysts that it will leverage its retail advertising spend in an effort to further drive awareness and utilization of the clinics. In addition, a pilot program is under way to provide training for specialty customers on certain injectable medications, with a possible rollout in the second half of 2009.

CVS expected to experience some share gain and a boost in foot traffic as a result of the Health Savings Pass, not to mention the enrollment fee, so the program shouldn’t cost CVS more than a penny or so per share on an annual basis, according to Ryan.

To obtain a Health Savings Pass, consumers can call (888)-616-2273 or visit www.cvs.com/healthsavingspass. The site also lists the medications covered by the program.

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Alimentary Health signs licensing agreement with P&G Pet Care

BY DSN STAFF

CORK, Ireland Alimentary Health on Wednesday announced that it has signed a worldwide licensing agreement with P&G Pet Care, makers of two of the worlds leading companion animal pet care products, Iams and Eukanuba.

Under the licensing agreement, Alimentary Health’s and P&G’s proprietary pet care probiotics will be used in P&G Pet Care’s nutritional supplement products. The global market for companion animal pet care products was estimated to be over $40 billion in 2007. Alimentary Health will receive an undisclosed royalty on sales of all products containing the pet care probiotics.

In 2001, Alimentary Health partnered with P&G to develop safe and effective probiotic products for gastrointestinal indications. In 2007, P&G Health Care started using Alimentary Health’s natural probiotic strain Bifidobacterium Infantis 35624, in Align in the US. Align is a daily probiotic supplement that helps build and maintain a strong and healthy digestive system.

“Today’s announcement comes as a result of our continued successful collaboration with P&G,” Barry Kiely, chief executive officer of Alimentary Health, said. “We are please that our ongoing efforts have once again resulted in Alimentary Health’s technology making it to the marketplace. This agreement is a result of a successful research and development program between the two companies and it brings us closer to fulfilling our vision of becoming the worldwide leader in the research, discovery and clinical development of probiotics. We are proud of our long standing association with such a leading multi-national company.”

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Kmart holds GoldK Day health services, screening day for seniors

BY Antoinette Alexander

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. Kmart, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sears Holding Corp., has announced that its pharmacy division will hold the annual GoldK Day on Nov. 18 for seniors.

“Kmart wants to remind seniors that we care about their health and GoldK Day is a way for our pharmacists to give back to these important customers by not only offering free screenings, but assistance with Medicare health plan selection and information about disease states, which can help seniors make better decisions about their healthcare,” Mark Doerr, vice president of Kmart pharmacy, said.

The activities planned for the event, to be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at all 1,100 Kmart pharmacy locations, include free blood pressure screenings, free memory screenings, Medicare health plan selection assistance and more.

No appointments are necessary. For more information, customers can all 800-866-0086 or visit www.kmart.com/pharmacy.

The initiatives are tied to the efforts of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, the annual initiative aimed at promoting early detection of memory problems and appropriate intervention.

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