HEALTH

McKesson’s drug-distribution business aids Q2 growth

BY Allison Cerra

SAN FRANCISCO Healthcare and distribution company McKesson reported Wednesday that the Distribution Solutions segment of its business drove second-quarter growth.

Revenues for McKesson rose nearly 1.5% to $27.5 billion for the quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with the year-ago period. Similarly, the company’s second-quarter earnings rose from $1.11 per share in second quarter 2009 to $1.25 per share.

For its Distribution Solutions business, McKesson said revenues were up 2% in the second quarter, with gross profit rising to $1.09 billion from $960 million in second quarter 2009. The company attributed the increased gross profit margin to an improved mix of higher-margin products and services, including sales of OneStop Generics.

“I’m pleased with the outstanding performance in our Distribution Solutions and the ability of our team to consistently provide higher-value products and services to our customers,” said John Hammergren, McKesson chairman and CEO. “In particular, the market-leading generics programs that we have across all of our distribution businesses continue to play a significant role in our margin expansion.”

McKesson also saw additional increases across its U.S. pharmaceutical distribution, where revenues were up 1% for the quarter, as well as its medical-surgical distribution revenues, which rose 5%. The company also noted, however, that revenues were down 3% for its Technology Solutions segment.

Hammergren said that the company continues to expect to earn between $4.72 and $4.92 per diluted share for its fiscal guidance.

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Cirrus’ ClearEars can relieve glue ear

BY Michael Johnsen

COLD SPRING HARBOR, N.Y. Cirrus Healthcare Products recently announced the launch of ClearEars, earplugs that contain a polymer to draw water from the ears after water activities. Consumers with glue ear, a condition in which thick, sticky fluid collects behind the eardrum, discovered that ClearEars helps to alleviate this condition, the company said.

 

Glue ear is common in children but also may affect adults. Left untreated, glue ear can cause temporary hearing loss and may affect a child’s behavior and educational process. Adults with glue ear also find it difficult to use regular earplugs to reduce noise or for water protection while swimming. Consumers with glue ear have reported that soft and comfortable ClearEars may be used while sleeping to reduce noise and also alleviate the moist, sticky glue ear feeling.

 

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Natural Products Association responds to TV segment regarding black cohosh

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON The Natural Products Association on Monday wrote a letter to the producers of a PBS NewsHour report that last week ran a segment critical of the herbal supplement industry.

Specifically, the segment attacked black cohosh supplements, citing research funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Researchers David Baker, professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive medicine at SUNY Stony Brook School of Medicine, and Dennis Stevenson, a staff scientist at the New York Botanical Garden, procured 26 random samples of black cohosh from the Internet and random, unnamed retailers across New York City and Long Island, N.Y., and found that 30% — or between seven and eight — of the samples did not contain black cohosh.

The research is part of to the Sloan Foundation’s “Barcode of Life” research grant, which is exploring “the development of DNA bar codes for plants by operating an international research network and by leading the effort for the 100,000 tree species of the world.” Specifically, Stevenson has been mapping a DNA bar code for black cohosh.

PBS correspondent Paul Solman noted that the DNA-bar-coding had been getting some “high-profile press” of late, stating that “a couple of years ago, two high school students used it to uncover the fishy truth about New York sushi.”

“The Natural Products Association urges you to release the product names you tested and all accompanying relevant data on the material, including how it was sampled and the test methodology, to the Food and Drug Administration so that proper action can take place,” the association wrote in its letter addressed to Solman.

Solman opened the PBS segment with, “Though we rarely do consumer stories, at the New York Botanical Garden not long ago, we happened on one we just couldn’t resist: that in one of America’s fastest-growing and least-regulated industries, medicinal herbs, what you see may not be what you get.”

Tagging the dietary supplement industry as “least regulated” isn’t the only inaccuracy within the report; Solmon also identified black cohosh as one of the “fastest-growing” supplements, joining “ginkgo and ginseng as America’s dietary supplement best-sellers.” However, according to recent SymphonyIRI Group data, sales of each of these supplements were on the decline for the 52 weeks ended June 13 across food, drug and mass (minus Walmart) outlets, and none of these supplements cracked the top-three best-sellers within the herbal category — gingko biloba ranked No. 5, black cohosh No. 9 and ginseng No. 10.

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