Content about Insights and Perspectives

April 11, 2014

Spring 2014 will be marked as a watershed moment for Rite Aid — it's the season Rite Aid officially transitioned from an operation on the turnaround to a renewed and recharged entity positioned for future growth.

"Fiscal 2014 was far more than just another great year for Rite Aid," John Standley, Rite Aid chairman and CEO, shared with analysts Thursday morning. "Because of our continued positive momentum, we are now in a position to evolve our strategy from one that focuses on turning our company around to one that emphasizes growth. Because of the rapid change taking place throughout the healthcare industry, we believe there is enormous opportunity to meet evolving marketplace needs, better serve our customers and demonstrate our value to the healthcare system. In many ways, we feel as though we're beginning a new chapter here at Rite Aid as we look to further expand our healthcare offerings and strengthen the many wellness offerings that have driven our recent success."

CAMP HILL, Pa. — Spring 2014 will be marked as a watershed moment for Rite Aid — it's the season Rite Aid officially transitioned from an operation on the turnaround to a renewed and recharged entity positioned for future growth.

April 4, 2014

Walgreens helped create a new, larger worksite health organization when it sold a majority interest in Take Care Employer Solutions to strategic health investor Water Street Healthcare Partners. The new entity, which combines Take Care with CHS Health Services, will serve more than 200 leading corporations through nearly 500 worksite health-and-wellness centers across the country. Walgreens still maintains a significant stake in the company and will continue to manage their existing worksite clinics in collaboration with the new company.

The end result will be an opportunity to couple best practices into an entity with a greater economy of scale that's part of a business model with a lot of upside. The vast majority of large employers remain committed to providing benefits to active employees, according to a recent survey by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health — an association of large employers — released in March. Offering health insurance as an employee benefit is something the majority of small businesses think is very important, too, according to the 2014 Small Business Health Care Survey from the National Small Business Association — 91% of firms fielding between 20 and 50 employees and 94% of businesses with more than 50 employees believe health benefits are crucial to employee recruitment and retention.

Walgreens helped create a new, larger worksite health organization when it sold a majority interest in Take Care Employer Solutions to strategic health investor Water Street Healthcare Partners. The new entity, which combines Take Care with CHS Health Services, will serve more than 200 leading corporations through nearly 500 worksite health-and-wellness centers across the country.

March 28, 2014

DSN recently launched a new microsite, DrugStoreNews.com/Pain-Management, to bring attention to a tragic side of the prescription drug abuse story — one that's not often told. The millions of Americans who live in chronic pain who already find it difficult to access the medications they need may soon find it even more difficult — because proposed changes in regulatory policy are expected to place additional hurdles on their treatment pathway.

DSN recently launched a new microsite, DrugStoreNews.com/Pain-Management, to bring attention to a tragic side of the prescription drug abuse story — one that's not often told.

March 21, 2014

Good things happen in small boxes. That's what Walmart is counting on with the introduction of its latest store concept — Walmart To Go. First the supercenter, then Neighborhood Market, then WalmartExpress and now Walmart to Go. The boxes just keep getting smaller.

But what if Walmart is on to something? What if tomorrow's definition of convenience is ubiquity? Then it makes a lot of sense to start filling in the gaps between the supercenters with smaller formats.

Good things happen in small boxes. That's what Walmart is counting on with the introduction of its latest store concept — Walmart to Go. First the supercenter, then Neighborhood Market, then WalmartExpress and now Walmart To Go. The boxes just keep getting smaller. (Check out photos of the new format.

March 14, 2014

Wellness empowerment. Even before Rite Aid’s big announcement last week, officially unveiling its newest program, the Rite Aid Health Alliance, those two words more or less reflected every major initiative happening at the company over the last few years: the Wellness stores; its Wellness+, Rite Aid’s health-based loyalty program; the Wellness Ambassadors in its stores… It’s always been about engaging patients in wellness, and empowering them to take steps to improve their health and well being. The Rite Aid Health Alliance takes that commitment down to the “atomic level of patient engagement,” Rite Aid chairman and CEO said last week, at a live event at one of its Buffalo stores.

Through the program, Rite Aid pharmacists together with a new patient care position in Rite Aid stores, the Care Coach, work directly with patients with chronic conditions and poly-chronic conditions to help them meet specific health improvement goals, as outlined by the patient’s physician. Care coaches, who are specially trained in behavior change to help patients address health issues related to lifestyle, work with patients to take their physicians’ recommendations and “break them down into sizeable, understandable milestones,” Jocelyn Konrad, VP healthcare initiatives for Rite Aid, told DSN. Rite Aid’s Health Alliance stores can “become an extension of the physician’s office,” she said. “It’s going to be a different experience for the patient. Whatever [they] need to understand and be motivated, we will work to provide it.”

Wellness empowerment. Even before Rite Aid’s big announcement last week, officially unveiling its newest program, Rite Aid Health Alliance, those two words more or less reflected every major initiative happening at the company over the last few years: the Wellness stores; wellness+, Rite Aid’s health-based loyalty program; the Wellness Ambassadors in its stores… It’s always been about engaging patients in wellness, and empowering them to take steps to improve their health and well being.

March 7, 2014

It's finally happening. Pfizer has placed the ball at the line of scrimmage. And based on the X's and O's to come out of its Lipitor OTC actual-use study, Pfizer will be making its run with its eye on the ultimate prize — a successful Rx-to-OTC switch of a statin.

Only this time, the Food and Drug Administration may not be as quick to sack Pfizer's switch attempt. With the advances and pervasion of health technology in the self-care space by way of smartphones and tablets; with the evolution of the pharmacist as a healthcare professional able to practice at the top of their license; and with the adoption of diagnostic tests like a cholesterol panel that can be physically administered in the pharmacy, consumers may finally get it right when self-selecting a statin.

Because it's the consumer actual-use studies that have scuttled just about every statin switch attempt in the past. In the last switch of Mevacor, FDA advisory panelists determined the statin was safe enough for the self-care space. And it was effective. It's just that the consumers who would be right for an OTC statin didn't appropriately self-select. And if they can't appropriately self-select, what's the point, really?

It's finally happening. Pfizer has placed the ball at the line of scrimmage. And based on the X's and O's to come out of its Lipitor OTC actual-use study, Pfizer will be making its run with its eye on the ultimate prize — a successful Rx-to-OTC switch of a statin. 

February 28, 2014

Following speculation that Safeway may be considering "strategic alternatives," Safeway executives during their latest conference call confirmed just that — the supermarket retailer placed itself on the sales block. Before that conference call, analysts were already putting two and two together and coming up with two viable suitors for the Safeway footprint — private investment firm Cerberus, also known as New Albertsons, and supermarket giant Kroger, which has just closed on Harris Teeter for $2.5 billion.

Cerberus is said to be the lead bidder, but Kroger shouldn't be ruled out. But what would Cerberus or Kroger be getting if they purchased Safeway outright for almost $10 billion? In addition to 1,335 locations and a $2.7 billion book of prescription business, there would be some intangibles in the deal as well — namely Safeway's relatively advanced Just for U loyalty program and a yet-to-be launched health-and-wellness platform that's supposed to evolve Safeway over the next decade from being a food retailer into being a health solutions center.

Following speculation that Safeway may be considering "strategic alternatives," Safeway executives during their latest conference call confirmed just that — the supermarket retailer placed itself on the sales block.

January 31, 2014

If you don't succeed the first time, try, try again. That's exactly what McKesson did when it announced that it reached an agreement with Franz Haniel & Cie. GmbH to acquire its entire holding of Celesio shares. And in a separate and subsequent agreement, McKesson also picked up the Celesio convertible bonds from Elliott.

Nothing good is ever easy. "While the path to securing this acquisition was certainly not what we had originally expected, it would seem that the interested parties to this transaction continued to see the compelling strategic benefit of McKesson and Celesio uniting to form a global leader in health care services," John Hammergren, McKesson chairman, CEO and president, said of the deal. "I never lost sight of the value this transaction will bring to our customers, our supply chain partners, the employees of both organizations and our shareholders."

If you don't succeed the first time, try, try again. That's exactly what McKesson did when it announced that it reached an agreement with Franz Haniel & Cie. GmbH to acquire its entire holding of Celesio shares. And in a separate and subsequent agreement, McKesson also picked up the Celesio convertible bonds from Elliott.

January 17, 2014

The National Community Pharmacists Association shared a proof of concept study that affirmed the value retail pharmacy can deliver in saving healthcare dollars. Patients who opted-in to medication synchronization programs offered through their community pharmacy averaged more than 100 additional days on therapy per year and were 30% more likely to take their medication as prescribed.

At a time when health systems and payers are actively seeking sound strategies to keep their patients from being readmitted to a hospital, pharmacy could very well be their panacea. Sticking to a prescribed drug therapy script does just that — it helps prevent re-hospitalizations, which will be a key metric with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The community pharmacist also sees the patients more often than other healthcare practitioners and has as many opportunities to provide appropriate course correction, if necessary, around a particular medicinal regimen if it isn't working. And medication synchronization augments the pharmacists' ability to keep their patients on point.

The National Community Pharmacists Association shared a proof of concept study that affirmed the value retail pharmacy can deliver in saving healthcare dollars. Patients who opted-in to medication synchronization programs offered through their community pharmacy averaged more than 100 additional days on therapy per year and were 30% more likely to take their medication as prescribed. 

January 15, 2014

Nearly three-quarters of osteoporosis patients prefer to take their medication in a form other than an oral solid, according to a new survey.

SAN ANTONIO — Nearly three-quarters of osteoporosis patients prefer to take their medication in a form other than an oral solid, according to a new survey.

January 14, 2014

Just slightly more than one-third of adults aged 18 to 64 got a flu shot last season, compared with two-thirds of seniors and more than half of children, according to an analysis released Tuesday by the Trust for America's Health.

WASHINGTON — Just slightly more than one-third of adults aged 18 to 64 got a flu shot last season, compared with two-thirds of seniors and more than half of children, according to an analysis released Tuesday by the Trust for America's Health.

January 10, 2014

With the launch of Family Vitamin Center, CVS/pharmacy created a new health hub on CVS.com to help educate customers on the vitamins and supplements that can support their personal health goals. The site is designed to declutter the dietary supplement aisle with features like an interactive questionnaire and guidance tools that provide personalized supplement recommendations. It also allows users to shop by goal, such as heart health or immune support, and get the latest health tips. And perhaps most important, there's an automatic replenishment program.

It's a smart play. Those who supplement regularly fall into one of two categories — they're supplementing as part of a major lifestyle improvement change, or they're supplementing because they're already living that healthier lifestyle. In either case, you've got a consumer looking for — and willing to pay for — healthier solutions. CVS/pharmacy is positioning itself to be that solution.

With the launch of Family Vitamin Center, CVS/pharmacy created a new health hub on CVS.com to help educate customers on the vitamins and supplements that can support their personal health goals. The site is designed to declutter the dietary supplement aisle with features like an interactive questionnaire and guidance tools that provide personalized supplement recommendations.

January 9, 2014

Vulnerable patients, including seniors and cancer patients, suffer from lack of access to needed painkillers as efforts to combat diversion and misuse of controlled substances often result in drugs not getting into the hands of those who need them, according to a new pharmacist survey by the National Community Pharmacists Association.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. —Vulnerable patients, including seniors and cancer patients, suffer from lack of access to needed painkillers as efforts to combat diversion and misuse of controlled substances often result in drugs not getting into the hands of those who need them, according to a new pharmacist survey by the National Community Pharmacists Association. 

January 9, 2014

Probiotics is another large-scale source of growth for the vitamins, minerals and supplements category, having realized a 33% rate of growth, or an increase in sales of $121 million in the last year, noted Doug Jones, Pharmavite spokesman.

Probiotics is another large-scale source of growth for the vitamins, minerals and supplements category, having realized a 33% rate of growth, or an increase in sales of $121 million in the last year, noted Doug Jones, Pharmavite spokesman.

(For the full category review, including sales data, click here.)

January 9, 2014

Food and beverage manufacturers in the United States exceeded the goal to remove calories from their products by 400%, according to a new report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

PRINCETON, N.J. — Food and beverage manufacturers in the United States exceeded the goal to remove calories from their products by 400%, according to a new report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

January 9, 2014

Ninety percent of people today want to have a say in important decisions regarding their health care, but only a small percentage are certain they'll have the recommended amount of savings needed to cover health expenses after retirement, according to a new study.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Ninety percent of people today want to have a say in important decisions regarding their health care, but only a small percentage are certain they'll have the recommended amount of savings needed to cover health expenses after retirement, according to a new study.

January 8, 2014

Everything from lack of motivation to stress can cause people to find maintaining a healthy diet difficult, according to a new survey by a company that makes stevia-based sweeteners.

WAYZATA, Minn. — Everything from lack of motivation to stress can cause people to find maintaining a healthy diet difficult, according to a new survey by a company that makes stevia-based sweeteners.

January 8, 2014

While snacking has become increasingly popular among Americans, often even replacing regular meals, many companies also have been developing salty snack foods that are healthier, according to a new study.

ROCKVILLE, Md. — While snacking has become increasingly popular among Americans, often even replacing regular meals, many companies also have been developing salty snack foods that are healthier, according to a new study.

In a report titled "Salty Snacks in the U.S.," market research firm Packaged Facts found that 50 million consumers who often snack between meals consider salted snacks their favorite, while 90% of households reporting eating salty snacks in the past 30 days.

January 7, 2014

Growth in health spending has slowed in recent years, including spending by private and public payers, according to data released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that also found a small contribution to the lower growth from the healthcare reform law.

WASHINGTON — Growth in health spending has slowed in recent years, including spending by private and public payers, according to data released Monday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that also found a small contribution to the lower growth from the healthcare reform law.

January 6, 2014

The ability of most accountable care organizations to promote optimal use of medications has not yet been developed, according to a new study.

WASHINGTON — The ability of accountable care organizations to promote optimal use of medications has not yet been fully developed, according to a new study.

January 6, 2014

Diabetic users of an online patient portfolio for medication refills improved their adherence to cholesterol-lowering medications and improved their cholesterol levels, according to a new study.

OAKLAND, Calif. — Diabetic users of an online patient portfolio for medication refills improved their adherence to cholesterol-lowering medications and improved their cholesterol levels, according to a new study.

January 3, 2014

According to reports, as many as 2.1 million Americans signed up for new insurance coverage that went into effect Jan. 1. However, even though these newly insured people had coverage, what they perhaps didn't have was the identification card to process claims, such as prescriptions, for example. But don't worry, retail pharmacy was fast to the rescue, offering those 2.1 million patients who had obtained insurance through a health exchange the benefit of the doubt and a 30-day supply of their prescriptions at no upfront cost once their coverage was verified.

According to reports, as many as 2.1 million Americans signed up for new insurance coverage that went into effect Jan. 1. However, even though these newly insured people had coverage, what they perhaps didn't have was the identification card to process claims, such as prescriptions, for example. But don't worry, retail pharmacy was fast to the rescue, offering those 2.1 million patients who had obtained insurance through a health exchange the benefit of the doubt and a 30-day supply of their prescriptions at no upfront cost once their coverage was verified. 

December 20, 2013

Walgreens posted a first-quarter sales increase of 5.9% to a record $18.3 billion. Front-end comparable store sales for the quarter increased 2.4% in the first quarter, customer traffic in comparable stores increased 0.2% and basket size increased 2.2%, while total sales in comparable stores increased 5.4%. Prescription sales, which accounted for 64.7% of sales in the quarter ended Nov. 30, increased 7.3%, while prescription sales in comparable stores increased 7.2%.

Front-end comps are up. Prescription comps are up. Business is good. And that's not the story. Rather, that's the kind of results you can expect from the story. The story is Walgreens is priming a three-pistoned growth engine that will quite likely drive what pharmacy will look like in the future — an efficient global supply chain beast that feeds a front-end that commands traffic in its own right, and a back-end that demands healthcare payers pay attention to how Walgreens can help improve adherence and patient-care metrics. So, how can suppliers better align with Walgreens?

Walgreens posted a first-quarter sales increase of 5.9% to a record $18.3 billion. Front-end comparable store sales for the quarter increased 2.4% in the first quarter, customer traffic in comparable stores increased 0.2% and basket size increased 2.2%, while total sales in comparable stores increased 5.4%. Prescription sales, which accounted for 64.7% of sales in the quarter ended Nov. 30, increased 7.3%, while prescription sales in comparable stores increased 7.2%.

December 19, 2013

While more than half of Americans don't agree with legalizing the sale and possession of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use, most also say that if legal, it should be sold at pharmacies, according to a new survey.

NEW YORK — While more than half of Americans don't agree with legalizing the sale and possession of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use, most also say that if legal, it should be sold at pharmacies, according to a new survey.

December 19, 2013

Rite Aid announced its third-quarter 2014 sales Thursday, showing higher total and same-store sales and profits than third quarter 2013, as well as continued growth in programs like the Wellness store format, Wellness65+ and others.

The main story surrounding Rite Aid over the past couple of years has been its efforts to engineer a turnaround, but the message from Thursday was, "Rite Aid more or less has turned around, so what's next?"

Rite Aid announced its third-quarter 2014 sales Thursday, showing higher total and same-store sales and profits than third quarter 2013, as well as continued growth in programs like the Wellness store format, Wellness65+ and others.

The main story surrounding Rite Aid over the past couple of years has been its efforts to engineer a turnaround, but the message from Thursday was, "Rite Aid more or less has turned around, so what's next?"