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As two cos. United, so arose a powerhouse

BY Jim Frederick

It was a merger of equals, and it spawned a more powerful drug store network with national reach. In June 2009, United Drugs and Associated Pharmacies merged their two organizations, spawning a new pharmacy powerhouse of 2,000 independent drug stores operating under a new corporate entity: American Associated Pharmacies.

The combination of Phoenix-based United Drugs and Scottsboro, Ala.-based API was a timely bow to the realities of a fractured, Darwinian marketplace. Independent pharmacy owners are particularly at risk in tough economic times, and they are far stronger together than apart.

The merger carried benefits for both groups. It’s helping to streamline costs for both organizations, boosting economies of scale and giving independent members more buying clout with suppliers. It also created a drug store network with operations in every state except North Dakota, and brought API’s distribution center into the mix, allowing United members to take advantage of more coordinated buys and vendor discounts. Both companies also are sharing best practices in such areas as technology and merchandising.

Both companies continue to operate under their own logos. Named president and CEO of the combined company was Jon Copeland, CEO of API. United CEO Bruce Semingson has taken the added role of COO for AAP.

Both men described the two companies as highly compatible. “API is known for running one of the nation’s most successful cooperative-owned warehouse operations, and United Drugs has one of the strongest managed care programs out there,” Semingson said. Copeland added, “With this strategic move, we’re confident we will become the strongest co-op of independent pharmacies in the nation.”

Contributing to the synergies is the fact that AAP signed a new supply agreement in January with Cardinal Health. Now under development, AAP spokesman Brett Doucette said, are a new integrated pharmacy Web site, set for launch in April, as well as enhancements to the Medicare prescription claims process and expanded clinical services provided by AAP pharmacies. “We’re going to continue to develop [medication therapy management] programs with some of the universities, including the University of Arizona,” Doucette told Drug Store News.

AAP

Headquarters: Phoenix2009 sales: $3.8 billion% change vs. 2008: 100%No. of stores: 2,000No. of stores with Rx: 2,000Avg. store size: 2,000 sq. ft.Rx sales: $3.5 billion*% of sales from Rx: 92%Sales per store: $1.9 million* Following the merger of United Drugs and Associated Pharmacies to form American Associated PharmaciesSource: Drug Store News

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Schnucks’ O’Brien to serve on Department of Agriculture advisory committee

BY Alaric DeArment

ST. LOUIS An executive from Schnuck Markets will serve on an advisory committee of the Department of Agriculture, Schnucks said this week.

Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack announced that Schnucks VP produce and floral Mike O’Brien would be one of 25 people appointed to a two-year term on the USDA’s Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee. O’Brien is also vice chairman of the Produce Marketing Association.

 

“I am honred to represent Schnuck Markets and the retail produce industry as a member of this committee,” O’Brien said. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to contribute and to make a difference for families across the nation.”

The committee, originally chartered in 2001, advises the secretary of agriculture on industry issues related to fruits and vegetables.

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Gilead commences phase 3 trial for single-tablet HIV treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

FOSTER CITY, Calif. Gilead Sciences has started a late-stage clinical trial of an investigational 4-in-1 treatment for HIV, the drug maker said.

Gilead announced the initiation of a phase 3 trial of its “Quad” HIV drug, a single-tablet treatment that combines elvitegravir, cobicistat, emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate. The study will compare the Quad regimen with the standard of care among adults with HIV-1 who have not taken antiretroviral treatments. The company is also investigating cobicistat as a standalone boosting agent for antiretroviral drugs.

“We are pleased to announce that the Quad phase 3 clinical program is underway,” Gilead EVP research and development and chief scientific officer Norbert Bischofberger said. “Efficacy and safety results from the phase 2 study suggest that the Quad may represent an important new option for patients with HIV.”

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