PHARMACY

Walgreens reports 8.7% pharmacy comps lift for January

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens Tuesday morning reported January sales of $6.2 billion, an increase of 6.3% as compared to the same month in fiscal 2012.

Prescriptions filled at comparable stores increased by 13.6% in January and increased 11.6% on a day-fall adjusted basis. This year’s January had one additional Wednesday and Thursday and one fewer Sunday and Monday compared with January 2012, positively impacting prescriptions filled in comparable stores by 2 percentage points. DFA prescriptions filled at comparable stores were positively impacted by 2.3 percentage points due to the higher incidence of flu in this year’s January and by 2 percentage points due to more flu shots administered in the month.

Walgreens reported that the percentage of Express Scripts customers filling prescriptions in its pharmacies continued to increase in January.

January pharmacy sales increased by 8.7%, while comparable store pharmacy sales increased 6.2% and by a day-fall adjusted 4.2%. DFA comparable store pharmacy sales were negatively impacted by 6 points due to generic drug introductions in the last 12 months. 

Pharmacy sales accounted for 65% of total sales for the month.

Flu shots administered at pharmacies and clinics season-to-date were nearly 6.9 million versus approximately 5.5 million last year.

Total front-end sales increased 1.3% compared with the same month in fiscal 2012, while comparable store front-end sales decreased 0.4%. Customer traffic in comparable stores decreased 2.8% while basket size increased 2.4%.

Sales in comparable stores increased by 3.7% in January. Calendar day shifts positively impacted total comparable sales by 1.3 percentage points, while generic drug introductions in the last 12 months negatively impacted total comparable sales by 3.9 percentage points.

Registrations for Walgreens Balance Rewards loyalty program, which launched in September, totaled nearly 55 million through January.

Walgreens opened nine stores during January, including two relocations, acquired two stores and closed two.


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NCPA to FDA: Rescheduling hydrocodone combo products to create headache for legitimate pain patients

BY Michael Johnsen

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The National Community Pharmacists Association on Monday submitted comments to the Food and Drug Administration urging the agency to preserve access to hydrocodone-containing pain relief products, as FDA considers moving the medications from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Schedule III list of controlled substances to the more restrictive Schedule II list.

“NCPA understands the concerns about diversion and abuse of these products and shares these concerns,” stated Ronna Hauser, NCPA VP policy and regulatory affairs. “Nevertheless, moving all of these hydrocodone products to Schedule II will result in significant barriers for patients who have a legitimate need for these products and it will result in adding to the nation’s health care costs with no assurance of a reduction in diversion and abuse.”

NCPA advised the proposed change would create an inordinate amount of hurdles in prescribing the prescription-strength pain reliever such as preventing prescribers from phoning in prescriptions to pharmacies, stopping prescription refills, limiting who can prescribe, and in some instances, prohibiting electronic prescribing. NCPA also suggested that rescheduling would likely increase the value of illicit hydrocodone products, which may prompt more crimes against pharmacies.

NCPA identified for the FDA a range of alternative solutions to reduce drug abuse without the harm to patients that rescheduling hydrocodone would cause. These included more effective education of prescribers, linking their DEA registration to such training; prescription drug monitoring databases and programs; shutting down rogue pain clinics; offering more disposal options for excess medications; greater use of electronic prescribing; and more scrutiny of controlled substances delivered by mail order pharmacies.


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Nebraska medication-management research study gets NACDS Foundation grant

BY Alaric DeArment

ARLINGTON, Va. — A university research project to look at the potential effects on patient health of incorporating medication management strategies into existing care teams has won a grant from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ philanthropic arm.

The NACDS Foundation said it gave the University of Nebraska Medical Center one of three research grants for the project, which will look at the effects of the strategies when they’re incorporated into teams such as medical homes and accountable care organizations.

"Coordinated patient-centered models are promising forums to drive quality and improve patient outcomes while also reducing public health costs," NACDS Foundation president Kathleen Jaeger said. "The primary medical intervention for most patients is medication therapy. Thus, by incorporating medication management strategies into emerging care models, we hope to optimize therapies and evaluate patient outcomes. We are pleased to award this research grant to the University of Nebraska Medical Center in alliance with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska, their medical homes and community pharmacy Walgreen Co."

The research will focus on patients with high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes from around Nebraska during a two-year period, using the Nebraska Health Information Initiative, a statewide bilateral information sharing portal that will allow physicians and pharmacists to share data across clinical settings.

"This research seeks to improve the health and wellness of Nebraskans by better coordinating care between pharmacists and physicians," lead researcher, chairman of the Innovation in Community Pharmacy Practice Network and University of Nebraska Medical Center professor Donald Klepser said. "Research shows that when pharmacists and physicians team up, better care is delivered at lower cost. We believe this project will lead to major improvements in the way care is delivered in communities throughout the state."


 

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