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Walgreens reports comp sales lift of 3.1% despite slow flu season start

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Wednesday reported September sales of $6 billion, an increase of 5.4%. Sales in comparable stores increased 3.1%. The effect of calendar day shifts negatively impacted total comparable sales by 10 basis points.

Total front-end sales increased 5.1% in September, while comparable front-end sales increased 3.4%. Customer traffic in comparable stores increased 0.2% and comparable basket size increased 3.2%. According to Credit Suisse analyst Edward Kelly, strong front-end results are being "driven by re-inflation, improved merchandising and store remodels."

Prescriptions filled at comparable stores increased 1.9% in September. Calendar day shifts in September — which had one additional Friday and one fewer Wednesday, compared with September 2010 — negatively impacted prescriptions filled in comparable stores by 10 basis points. Lower incidence of flu negatively impacted comparable prescriptions filled by 70 basis points. Prescriptions filled at comparable stores also were negatively impacted by 70 basis points, due to fewer flu shots versus last year.

September pharmacy sales increased 4.6%, while comparable pharmacy sales increased 3%. Calendar day shifts negatively impacted pharmacy sales in comparable stores by 10 basis points. Comparable pharmacy sales were negatively impacted by another 170 basis points due to generic drug introductions in the last 12 months and by 110 basis points due to lower incidence of cough, cold and flu. Comparable pharmacy sales also were negatively impacted by 30 basis points due to fewer flu shots. Pharmacy sales accounted for 66.4% of total sales for the month.

Flu shots administered at pharmacies and clinics season-to-date were nearly 1.9 million, versus approximately 2.3 million last year.

“While we once again are seeing a slower start to the flu season, we have seen increased demand for flu shots in recent weeks,” stated Kermit Crawford, president of pharmacy, health and wellness division.

Walgreens opened 16 stores during September, including two relocations, and acquired four.


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AccuDial expands packaging portfolio with Stephen Key acquisition

BY Michael Johnsen

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — AccuDial Pharmaceutical on Tuesday acquired Stephen Key Design in a move that will expand AccuDial’s patent portfolio to more than 50 patents for weight-based dosing and other extended content rotating labels, which add 75% more labeling space to a container.

“Stephen Key founded the company in 1998 and is a recognized leader in the $63 billion label industry," AccuDial chairman and CEO Bob Terwilliger said. "He will remain at the helm of Stephen Key Design and continue as a member of AccuDial’s board of directors."

“In the past 13 years, hundreds of millions of Spinformation labels have been used on a wide range of products,” Stephen Key said. “Spinformation labels have been used on Rexall Sundown Vitamins, Children’s AccuDial pediatric liquid medicines, and Kirkwood Brand products, to name just a few. Spinformation has partnerships with a number of packaging industry leaders.”

Stephen Key Design will focus with AccuDial on pharmaceutical applications for prescription, over-the-counter, nutritional supplements and injectable vials.

In addition to weight-based dosing, AccuDial’s ECRL can be used for product launches to notify consumers about a new or improved product; discount coupons on the inner label; quick reader codes can lead consumers to a company’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, Plaxo, Yelp, FourSquare, Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon, Whrrl and MySpace profiles; multilanguage messaging on the inner label providing directions for multiple markets; illustrations, such as Barrier Grid animation, to illustrate such conditions as a throbbing pain in the shoulder or lower back; and daily dose and progress tracking  for medicine taken multiple times per day.

Beginning Oct. 17, Children’s AccuDial acetaminophen for pain and fever with weight-based dosing will be available at Amazon.com, and a number of leading internet drug store sites. Children’s AccuDial acetaminophen for pain and fever will be available in five flavors: cherry, dye-free cherry, bubblegum, strawberry and grape for children between 12 and 95 lbs.


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Ralph Neas delivers remarks at GPhA-FDA Fall Technical Conference

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON — Though his term as Generic Pharmaceutical Association president and CEO began four weeks ago, Ralph Neas made his big debut Tuesday as he delivered his remarks at the GPhA-Food and Drug Administration Fall Technical Conference.

Neas — who most recently served as president and CEO of the National Coalition on Health Care and has long worked for various civil rights organizations — spoke of the growth of generic drugs over the years, noting that they account for 78% of all prescriptions dispensed in the United States despite consuming 25% of total drug spending. He also noted a recent analysis by IMS Health that showed the use of generic drugs saved consumers, patients and the U.S. healthcare system $931 billion over the past decade.

"These are incredible savings for the system and something each of us can share pride in helping to achieve," Neas said. "But we should not lose sight of what this means for individuals … to folks like you and me."

Click here to read the Neas’ full speech.


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