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Take Care coupons offered for popular flu season products

BY Antoinette Alexander

CONSHOCKEN, Pa. Amid the current economic turmoil, Take Care Health Systems is promoting its quality and cost-effective healthcare service this flu season through a Winter Promotional Program that runs through the end of March.

The program, which kicked off in January, is taking place at all 327 Take Care Clinics nationwide, the company announced on Tuesday. It coincides with the height of the cold, cough and flu season. Under the program, first-time visitors are eligible to receive a $50 coupon book redeemable for select Walgreens merchandise including cold medicine, facial tissue and hand sanitizer. 

“Consumers who seek care are looking more closely for ways to reduce the overall costs of treatment,” stated Sandy Ryan, chief nurse practitioner officer for Take Care Health Systems. “Many of those cost-conscious consumers are sacrificing quality or a satisfying patient experience.” 

Citing a survey by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Take Care stated that 22% of consumers said that the ailing economy was causing them to see the doctor less. In an effort to save money, about 11% said they?ve scaled back on prescription drugs or reduced the dosage of those drugs to make them last longer. 

“With an increasing number of families and individuals in America forced to make tough choices when it comes to spending, health care should not be something that suffers,” stated Peter Miller, president and CEO of Take Care Health Systems. “Now more than ever, the care offered at Take Care Clinics is an excellent option for patients as they look to save on cost, without having to compromise the quality of their health or the care they receive.” 

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It’s official: Wasson is new Walgreens CEO

BY Jim Frederick

DEERFIELD, Ill.

Walgreens has culminated its nationwide search for a new leader by staying true to its long history of promoting from within. The company’s three-month search for a permanent chief executive officer to succeed Jeff Rein concluded today when Walgreens announced it has awarded the post to its own second in command: president and chief operating officer Greg Wasson.

Wasson will retain his title of president, and will work alongside Alan McNally, who will remain Walgreens chairman after filling the role of interim CEO after the abrupt departure of Rein Oct. 10.

McNally praised Wasson as “a strong, natural leader and strategist with a clear view of where he wants to take this company to deliver improved shareholder returns.

“Since he became President nearly two years ago, his personal leadership has been instrumental in assembling a wonderfully talented leadership team with a diverse set of capabilities from Walgreens, acquired health care companies, and direct hires from other industries,” McNally added. “Greg has been the key architect and is now leading the implementation of Walgreens ‘more from the core’ strategy that is rapidly and fundamentally transforming our company.”

Wasson, for his part, expressed confidence in the company’s fundamentals despite the current economic upheaval. “It is a very exciting time for Walgreens,” he said. “Despite the challenges we face from a difficult retail environment, we believe our fundamental strengths as a company – the best, most convenient, community-based store network in America; our iconic brand; and strong balance sheet – are tremendous competitive advantages that will accelerate the strategic transformation and success of our company.”

By choosing the 50-year-old, 29-year company veteran over a slate of candidates from other companies and even other industries, Walgreens’ board of directors and its search committee tacitly acknowledged that the best person for the job was the one who was, for all intents and purposes, already filling the role of chief executive. “During the past three-and-a-half months, the special committee conducted a national search to find the best person to become Walgreens’ new CEO,” explained William Foote, head of the nominating and governance committee.

“This is the first time in the company’s history that an external search has been conducted for the CEO position,” Foote acknowledged. “Our process was intensive, wide reaching and thorough, considering both internal and numerous external candidates. Both the committee and board have unanimously concluded that Greg Wasson is the best person to lead Walgreens forward as we pursue our growth strategy to return this company to higher levels of earnings performance.”

Added board member James Skinner, who also helped lead the search for Rein’s successor, “Greg brings an unmatched combination of proven leadership skills and a breadth and depth of industry experience in retail operations, consumer marketing, health care delivery and business-to-business client relationships to his new role as CEO. He is ideally suited to lead Walgreens in its mission to be America’s most convenient provider of consumer goods and services, and pharmacy, health and wellness services.”

Given Walgreens’ recent sales and earnings setbacks and the dismal state of the economy, Wasson will have to hit the ground running. But he appears well suited to the role, and turned in a highly competent performance at the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting earlier this month, reassuring anxious investors that the company was taking the big steps needed to reassert its industry leadership.

Among the steps he outlined: reducing Walgreens’ operating costs, sparking higher front-end sales, and forging a more integrated model of health and pharmacy retailing that draws “more from the core” of the company’s assets and its relationships with employers, health professionals, patients and other managed-care stakeholders.

Wasson only moved up to the post of president and COO in 2007, but he quickly made his mark as a poised, confident manager who could articulate a new vision for Walgreens as an integrated provider of a full spectrum of pharmacy and health services. Under his direction, Walgreens has pursued essentially a new and broader mission as an integrated health retailer for a new health care paradigm.

It’s a role for which Wasson is well suited. Before his promotion to president and COO less than two years ago, he served for five years as head of Walgreens Health Services, the company’s fast-growing pharmacy benefit management and specialty pharmacy operation, following a long career in Walgreens field operations and regional management. He brought his expertise in PBM operations and the needs of employers and other health plan payers to his new role as the company’s second in command, boosting Walgreens’ commitment to employer-based clinic and pharmacy operations, cost-saving alternatives for payers and specialty pharmacy services.

For Wasson, the retail mission for Walgreens has evolved and expanded as the population has aged, health costs have skyrocketed and new opportunities have arisen for a more integrated, holistic and data-driven approach to health care retailing. As chief executive, he’ll continue to push for a broader model of pharmacy and health care services.

“There has never been a better time to move the profession of pharmacy forward,” he told Drug Store News last year. “The stars are aligning. Healthcare is in crisis. Employers, the government, managed care organizations and patients are looking for solutions.”

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GNC offers displaced retail professionals entrepreneurial opportunity

BY Michael Johnsen

PITTSBURGH With the retail job force contracting, General Nutrition Company is positioning its franchise base as an attractive alternative to beating the job-search pavement with a 25% discount of its initial franchise fee for displaced retail professionals, available through July 31.

“At a time when many retailers are going out of business, cutting jobs and closing locations, GNC sales are as strong as ever and the company continuesto expand its retail locations,” stated EVP president of store development Tom Dowd. “GNC is continuing to do very well, opening 237 stores in North America alone within the last three years and another 50-plus planned to open this year.”

GNC suggested that an estimated 14,000 retailers will close their doors this year. 

As part of a press release issued Monday, the specialty retailer stated, “Despite the challenging economic climate in the United States — which has cost thousands of experienced retail employees their jobs — the supplement and self-care industry remains a $21 billion industry and continues to grow at a rate of 4% to 6% each year.”

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