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Surprise package: Will WMT take mail national?

BY DSN STAFF

BENTONVILLE, Ark. —A national rollout of the newest wrinkle to Walmart’s generic-pricing program appears imminent given the measured pace at which the retailer has layered on prior enhancements to the now three-year-old pricing initiative.

The most recent addition to the company’s affordable pharmacy program is a $10 mail-order option for a 90-day supply of generics. Walmart began offering the $10 mail-order option in May in Michigan and last month extended the pricing program to 22 additional states in the Northeast and Midwest. The company offered no indication when the service would be available in Western and Southern states, but the phased implementation is reminiscent of the launch of the $4 generic program. It was introduced to the Tampa, Fla., market in September 2006 and by early October was extended statewide. In late October, additional states were added, and by the end of November, the program was available nationwide.

It would appear to be a matter of when, not if, Walmart will add the $10 generic mail-order option to additional states, especially because the company already offers nationwide mail service and can adjust pricing without introducing the type of store-level operational impacts associated with the increased volumes that resulted from the launch of the $4 program. And the $10 mail-order option is merely an extension of an existing pricing tier that was added to the retail program in May 2008.

Taken collectively, Walmart contends that its generic-pricing initiatives have saved the company’s customers more than $2 billion during the past three years, and the addition of a mail option will result in further savings by improving access to affordable medicines for people who don’t live near a Walmart pharmacy.

“Americans deserve access to quality, affordable health care and medications, yet some families today aren’t filling prescriptions because of high costs or lack of health insurance,” John Agwunobi, SVP and president of Walmart’s health-and-wellness division said when the mail-order program was expanded last month. “Walmart strives to find innovative new pharmacy solutions that better serve all of our customers’ needs, which is why we’re so excited to offer this program to even more Americans.”

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Stop & Shop to offer flu shots to customers

BY Allison Cerra

QUINCY, Mass. For more than twenty years, Stop & Shop has provided seasonal flu shots as part of its Health & Wellness initiative in a continuing effort to best meet the needs of its customersduring the cough and cold season. This year, Stop & Shop will offer seasonal influenza immunizations at a reduced price to Stop & Shop card holders in the pharmacy department beginning Sept. 11 through Nov. 26 or until quantities associated with this program last.

“As part of our continued commitment to provide value to our customers, Stop & Shop is offering seasonal flu shots for $20 when customers use their Stop & Shop card,” said Jim Wonderly, VP pharmacy operations for Stop & Shop. “Unfortunately, many Americans are foregoing medical care because of increased costs, and we want to do our part by offering affordable immunizations during these challenging economic times.”

Seasonal flu shots will be administered at a reduced price in most Stop & Shop stores starting Friday, expanding to all stores in October. Immunizations will be provided by certified and trained Stop & Shop pharmacists and through Stop & Shop’s partnership with Maxim Health Systems and their trained health care professionals. The cost of the seasonal immunization is $30, but customers with a Stop & Shop loyalty card can save an additional $10. Thus, the final cost to Stop & Shop customers, with the Card, is $20.

“Last month, we introduced millions of customers to the new Stop & Shop card along with a commitment to provide them with the best possible value,” said Stop & Shop EVP Jeff Martin. “With the savings Stop & Shop is offering on seasonal flu shots, we are demonstrating that ongoing value commitment as well as a commitment to the health and wellness of ourcustomers.”

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Louisiana seeks to curb methamphetamine abuse with new legislation

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. Two government officials from Louisiana invited the National Association of Chain Drug Stores for a signing of a new law aimed at curbing methamphetamine abuse.

On Sept. 8, Gov. Bobby Jindal and Rep. Fred Mills invited NACDS, law enforcement and other select stakeholders to the Governor’s Mansion for a special signing ceremony for HB890 (Act 314). NACDS was instrumental in the negotiations and eventual passage of the new law which establishes a real-time pseudoephedrine reporting system once federal grants are secured.

The law also provides liability protections to pharmacy, and specifically states that no fees will be collected from pharmacies or pharmacists to operate or transmit the data to state police.

NACDS thanked both Gov. Jindal and Rep. Mills for initiating this important legislation, and for working with pharmacies to make it even better.

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