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Walmart: Robust allergy season boosting performance across health and wellness

BY Michael Johnsen

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — A soft cough-cold season has given way to a robust allergy season, Bill Simon, Walmart U.S. president and EVP, told analysts Thursday, which was one contributing factor to improving overall health and wellness by more than 150 basis points. 

Walmart’s prescription business is also on the rise. "Prescriptions delivered a mid-single-digit positive comp, driven by branded drug inflation and a strong increase in script counts," Simon said. "Script counts benefitted from new contracts in our Medicare business."

Health and wellness, which includes pharmacy, optical and OTC, was also up at Sam’s Club, albeit in the low single-digits. "Member awareness and usage of our pharmacy continues to grow, contributing to a high single-digit positive comp," reported Rosalind Brewer, Sam’s Club president and CEO. "Over-the-counter however, pressured the entire category, as we lapped strong prior year performance in diet and nutrition items."

Outside of the positive performance across its health-and-wellness segment, Walmart U.S. comp sales were relatively flat, down 8 basis points for the 13-week period ended May 2, in part because of the severe weather that adversely impacted comp sales by approximately 20 basis points. Comp sales for the Neighborhood Market format rose approximately 5%. "We saw strength across food and health and wellness, and we’re particularly pleased with our overall traffic trend," stated Simon. "April marked the 46th consecutive month of positive comps for Neighborhood Market."

Walmart U.S. net sales increased $1.3 billion, or 2%, for the period to $67.9 billion. Net sales at Sam’s Club were up 0.1% to $13.9 billion. 

 

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Armada Health Care hosts successful Annual Specialty Pharmacy Summit

BY Michael Johnsen

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — On May 5 to 9, Armada Health Care hosted its 10th Annual Specialty Pharmacy Summit at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. This year’s event gathered another record number of attendees, including more than 3,000 industry stakeholders, according to the association. Participants comprised specialty pharmacy owners, pharmacy directors and executives from specialty pharmacies and pharmaceutical and biotech manufacturers. 

Also in attendance were drug wholesalers, payers and PBMs, consultants in the health care sector, and other related technology and industry vendors. 

"The Armada Specialty Pharmacy Summit is one of the few venues that brings together key stakeholders from various industries: specialty pharmacy, the pharmaceutical industry, and the payer industry," commented Albert Thigpen, SVP Catamaran. "The meeting provides us with an opportunity to express our needs and align the incentives across all of the key stakeholders in a very candid, objective way. We cover everything from reimbursement to patient services to supply chain logistics to product launch criteria."

This year’s featured topics revolved around drug pricing, provider services and access, and also included many discussions about new hepatitis C drugs and 340B practices. Another hot topic discussed at the meeting was biosimilars. It has been estimated by various sources that $20 billion in product will lose patent over the next four years, and assuming a developed U.S. market, IMS predicts the global oncology biosimilar market will be worth approximately $12 billion by the year 2020.

During his State of the Industry presentation, Jim Robinson, president, Astellas Pharma US, petitioned attendees to continue working together as patients face new challenges in the evolving health care landscape. "We should be proud of the significant accomplishments that the pharma and biotech companies have made over the years, working in partnership with specialty pharmacies, managed care organizations and providers, but we still have a great deal of work to do, especially regarding reimbursement and improving customer experiences," Robinson noted.

Other speakers throughout the week challenged audience members to think about access and control when bringing a specialty drug to market and to consider the number of specialty pharmacy providers to use in this endeavor. They noted that brand teams should consider optimization of the right channel for a medication and plan the appropriate fulfillment approach early, as soon as the product launches.

The 11th Annual Armada Specialty Pharmacy Summit & Expo will return to Wynn Las Vegas and Encore May 4 to 8, 2015.

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HDS named Concur App Center “Partner of the Year”

BY Michael Johnsen

IRVINE, Calif. — Healthcare Data Solutions on Thursday announced that they were named Concur App Center “Partner of the Year” for the second consecutive year. In 2012, HDS and Concur, a provider of spend management services, formed a partnership to deliver real-time access to HDS for Concur expense clients. The resulting cloud-based application, HDSverify for Concur Connect, allows Concur users to locate and verify healthcare provider information for spend tracking and Sunshine Act reporting. 

In an effort to increase transparency of the financial interactions between physicians and healthcare vendors, the Open Payments/Physician Payments Sunshine Act requires manufacturers of drugs, medical devices and biologicals that participate in U.S. federal healthcare programs to report certain payments and items of value given to physicians and teaching hospitals. Healthcare Data Solutions’ Concur Connect service enables users to perform expense report searches for NPI, taxonomy, state license and address data in real time.

“Healthcare Data Solutions has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to our partnership, delivering a critical app that enables Sunshine Act compliance and spend reporting for our clients across health systems, life sciences and hospitals,” stated Jigish Avalani, SVP and general manager of Platform Services at Concur. “We are pleased to recognize and award HDS for their outstanding achievements and dedication to serving our client’s compliance needs.” 

 

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