HEALTH

Drugstore.com teams with Medco to offer members expanded online health store

BY Michael Johnsen

BELLEVUE, Wash. Drugstore.com on Thursday announced a strategic alliance with Medco Health Solutions, under which Medco will offer its members access to an integrated online store featuring a wide range of non-prescription consumer health products, including over-the-counter medicines, expected to begin in mid-2009.

“We look forward to developing this exciting new offering with Medco, which provides pharmacy benefits for over 60 million Americans,” stated Dawn Lepore, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of drugstore.com. “The alliance supports our strategy to leverage the drugstore.com ecommerce health, beauty and wellness platform and extend our leadership in consumer health merchandising, marketing, fulfillment, and customer care.”  

Drugstore.com will provide technical development and operation services, consumer health products and OTC merchandising, fulfillment capabilities and customer care for the non-prescription-drug offerings in the Medco branded online store.

“We envision this collaboration with drugstore.com will, over time, enable Medco to efficiently develop and deliver a broad spectrum of new consumer-based products and services that complement our prescription drug expertise and extend the continuum of care for the approximately one in five Americans we serve nationwide,” John Driscoll, president of new markets for Medco Health Solutions, said.

Through the agreement, Medco will provide its members access to a comprehensive portfolio of health-related products that complement prescription drug care—especially for patients with chronic and complex conditions. Members will be presented with a tailored set of non-prescription products aligned with their known health condition, and access to a broader set of consumer health items that provide convenient one-stop shopping. Members will also benefit from an advanced safety net to help ensure that for certain OTC medicines they are informed of interactions with the prescription drugs that they may also be taking—a growing issue in the retail pharmacy environment as more medicines transition from prescription to OTC availability.

Flexible spending account services for Medco clients and members will be supported through the drugstore.com SIGIS certified system to identify and approve FSA-eligible over-the-counter products. FSA debit cards are accepted and FSA-only receipts may be printed for reimbursement.

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General Nutrition Centers reports revenues up 4.8 percent for quarter

BY Michael Johnsen

PITTSBURGH General Nutrition Centers last week reported revenues of $414.2 million for the period ending Sept. 30, a 4.8 percent increase over the year-ago quarter.

One of the positives helping to drive that growth for the specialty retailer is GNC’s partnership with Rite Aid—Rite Aid added 126 GNC store-within-a-store centers over the quarter—which contributed to an overall 19.4 percent lift across GNC’s manufacturing wholesale segment. “Revenue in this segment is generated primarily by third-party sales at our South Carolina manufacturing facility and wholesale and consignment sales at Rite Aid and drugstore.com,” said GNC executive vice president and chief financial officer Michael Nuzzo during a conference call with analysts last week. “The growth in this segment was the result of increased third-party sales and additional license fee revenue for Rite Aid store-within-a-store openings … Rite Aid now operates 1,682 GNC store-within-a-store locations across the U.S., versus 1,293 stores last year,” he said.

“As you can see from store openings, which have accelerated, [Rite Aid is] still very pleased with the strategy of GNC store-in-store concepts, and they clearly still show significant improvements in their results when they have a GNC store inside a Rite Aid store versus where they do not,” Nuzzo added.

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J&J pulls online Motrin ad after negative social networking site reactions

BY Jenna Duncan

LANGHORNE, Pa. Health and personal care giant Johnson & Johnson was urged to take down an online video ad for Motrin brand ibuprophen geared towards mothers who suffer pain from carrying babies during the day after some Internet users responded that the ad was insensitive, reports said.

The video interstitial featured a barrage of moving text and line art images which showed back, neck and shoulder pain related to carrying babies in slings and packs. Some viewers took issue with the use of language that suggested carrying a baby all day was “in fashion,” as well as other statements related to motherhood and pain.

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