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Winn-Dixie to fill prescriptions for antiviral drugs

BY Michael Johnsen

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Winn-Dixie Stores on Thursday announced a joint initiative with the Department of Health designed to help under-insured customers battle this year’s flu season. Select Winn-Dixie pharmacies in Florida, Louisiana and Alabama will now fill prescriptions of the antiviral drugs Tamiflu and/or Relenza for free for patients who have little or no prescription insurance coverage.

In order to qualify for this program, customers must have a valid physician’s prescription for the antiviral medication. A state-regulated fee may be charged for dispensing the antiviral medication; however, this fee will be waived in cases where patients are unable to pay.

Additionally, all of Winn-Dixie’s 401 pharmacies are now mixing children’s Tamiflu suspension, which is currently in short supply.

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Costco reports drop in Q4, fiscal-year earnings

BY Alaric DeArment

ISSAQUAH, Wash. A combination of the recession and foreign exchange rates have hit mass merchandiser Costco hard over the past year.

The Issaquah, Wash.-based mass merchandiser reported net sales of $21.89 billion during the 16-week period ended Aug. 30, a 3% decrease from $22.63 billion in net sales that the company had in fourth quarter 2008. Net sales for fiscal year 2009 were $69.89 billion, a 2% decrease from $70.98 billion in fiscal year 2008. Nevertheless, the five-week period ending Oct. 4 saw net sales of $6.85 billion, an increase over the $6.67 billion during the same five-week period last year.

Net income during the fourth quarter was $374 million, compared with $398 million in fourth quarter 2008. Net income for the entire fiscal year was $1.09 billion, compared with $1.28 billion in fiscal year 2008.

“Fiscal 2009 results, including those of the fourth quarter, were negatively impacted by these previously reported factors: ongoing softness in U.S. sales, primarily the result of a weak economic environment; higher employee benefit costs, mainly consisting of higher healthcare eligibility and usage; and lower U.S. dollar amounts of international profits as a result of weaker foreign currencies,” Costco CFO Richard Galanti said in a statement.

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‘Fright Aid’ coupons help shoppers save

BY Allison Cerra

CAMP HILL, Pa. To help customers get their spook on for less this year, Rite Aid is offering in-store “Fright Aid” coupons worth more than $30 off select merchandise including Halloween and fall seasonal goodies.

Smart shoppers can also use their Halloween receipts dated Oct. 17 or earlier to earn additional savings of $5, $10 and $20 gift certificates through Rite Aid’s Rake in the Savings program. Details are available at www.riteaid.com.

“We know many Americans are a bit spooked this year by all the gloomy economic news,” said Bryan Shirtliff, SVP category management at Rite Aid. “But we also know that Halloween is a fun time for many to bury their worries and dress up as someone – or something – else.”

In the past, Saturday holidays such as this year’s have meant increased interest in attending or hosting Halloween parties, Shirtliff adds. The National Retail Federation predicts the average Halloween shopper will spend $56.31 with total holiday spending reaching $4.75 billion.

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