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Walgreens boosts pertussis vaccine supply amid Kan. outbreak

BY Alaric DeArment

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens is offering immunizations against whooping cough in Kansas as an epidemic of the disease spreads around the state, the retail pharmacy chain said.

Walgreens said it would offer the Tdap vaccine at all of its 67 stores in Kansas and its 195 stores in Missouri in pharmacies and Take Care Clinics.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has reported 56 cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, as of June 11, compared with the 52 cases reported for the entire year of 2011.

"We share in the recommendations of health officials that one of the best things people can do to help keep themselves and their community healthy is to get vaccinated," Walgreens market pharmacy director Frank Koen said. "As some of the most trusted healthcare professionals in communities across our state, this is an excellent opportunity for our pharmacists to help educate residents about the importance of vaccinations and how we can all work together to help slow the spread of disease to some of the most vulnerable — our children. It is extremely important for those who are for or are in contact with children also be immunized to help prevent the spread of disease."

Pharmacists in Kansas can administer the Tdap vaccine to patients ages 18 eyars and older, while those in Missouri can administer it to patients ages 7 years and older, and nurse practitioners at Take Care Health clinics can administer it to those ages 10 years and older.


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Rite Aid wins, we all win

BY Michael Johnsen

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT — You want Rite Aid to win. A Rite Aid win represents a proof of concept — that concept being the creation of an effective market-driven loyalty program that incorporates savings on the healthcare services and in fact cross-pollinates pharmacy patients and front-end shoppers; that concept being that generic waves need not wash out all pharmacy sales volume if a pharmacy retailer successfully can grow ancillary healthcare services, such as immunizations or Rite Aid’s new Rite Care Prescription Advisor; that concept being that there is in fact a return on investment from placing a knowledgeable team member armed with a tablet of health information physically in the aisles to proactively engage patients. You want Rite Aid to win because a Rite Aid win means a retail pharmacy win.

(THE NEWS: Wellness+ loyalty program, Wellness format stores continue to lift Rite Aid performance. For the full story, click here.)

You need Rite Aid to win. Let’s face it: Adjudicating prescriptions was certainly a more tenable business model back when pharmacists were adequately reimbursed for adjudicating those prescriptions. But those reimbursements are never going to be even adequate again. Not anymore. The reimbursement squeeze, especially across Medicare and Medicaid, has been going on for the past decade. And with the baby boomer population yet to reach the Medicare-eligible bell curve crest and a significant swelling in Medicaid rolls over the past few years, coupled with a declining tax pool and escalating federal government deficit, both Medicare and Medicaid directors will remain budget-cautious. They have to be.

Today’s pharmacy business model is gravitating toward the drug store box as health-and-wellness destination — fresh and good-for-you food, an increase in disease prevention services that augment today’s disease support services, a ready healthcare advocate and resource that patients/customers can tap into at their convenience. So when Rite Aid launches such new programs as its Rite Care Prescription Advisor; when Rite Aid reports a continued swell in its Wellness+ loyalty program that contributes to better performance; when Rite Aid reports that its Wellness format featuring that higher-overhead front-line health-and-wellness consultant is outperforming traditional pharmacy; when Rite Aid reports all of this is contributing to its sixth consecutive quarter of same-store sales jumps, that’s not just a win for Rite Aid — it’s a win for you, too.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Do you agree that a Rite Aid win is a retail pharmacy win, or are the two mutually exclusive? Do you think that Rite Aid can maintain this sales momentum? Can Rite Aid’s growth trajectory accelerate from here? Post your comments below.

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Target donates funds to flood relief efforts in Duluth, Minn.

BY Allison Cerra

MINNEAPOLIS — Target has donated $15,000 in monetary support and product to assist with Duluth, Minn., flood relief efforts.

A $10,000 cash donation was given to the American Red Cross Northland Chapter to support their response efforts. An additional $5,000 in gift cards will be donated to local nonprofit organizations for such essentials as water and food.

"When disaster strikes, Target listens and acts quickly to help support the needs of our communities," Target chairman, president and CEO Gregg Steinhafel said. "Our thoughts are with the residents of Duluth and we hope our donation will aid in the community’s recovery."

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