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Wash. family chain takes stand against state

BY Antoinette Alexander

Bartell Drugs, the nation’s oldest family-owned drug store chain, continues to plug along on a growth path as it takes a stand against its home state’s move to reduce compensation to pharmacies.

The Seattle-based regional player announced in September 2009 the opening of its 57th store in Issaquah, Wash. The 16,395-sq.-ft. store marked the third Bartells store to open in 2009, following the openings of stores in Lynnwood and Mill Creek, Wash., in July and August, respectively.

However, 2010 kicked off with a bit of a snag as the company announced it would stop filling Medicaid prescriptions at 15 of its stores as of Feb. 1.

In September 2009, the industry pricing standard was reduced as a result of a court decision in Massachusetts. Unlike most other insurance providers, including other states, the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services made no effort to offset the reduction, resulting in sizeable reductions in payments to pharmacies, stated George Bartell, chairman and CEO of Bartell.

“We hope that the state will reconsider their reimbursement and meet its responsibility to provide access to all Medicaid recipients,” Bartell stated. “Our sincere hope is that this issue will be resolved so we do not need to expand our exclusion of DSHS prescription services to additional locations.”

In other news, Bartell partnered with PlayNetwork to provide music and messaging services to the company’s newest stores, with additional stores to follow.

BARTELL DRUGS

Headquarters: Seattle2009 sales: $353.4 million% change vs. 2008: 0%No. of stores: 57No. of stores with Rx: 57Avg. store size: 15,000 sq. ft.Rx sales: $187.3 million% of sales from Rx: 53%Sales per store: $6.2 million

Source: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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