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Following The Buzz

Healthcare Solutions

April 8, 2013
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Healthcare is, and should be, one of the nation’s top issues. In 2007, illness or medical bills contributed to 62.1 percent of all bankruptcies in 2007, according to the American Journal of Medicine. With or without health insurance, many Americans increasingly are turning to OTC products and drugstore services to save money on minor issues, and many are turning to private label OTC products to save even more.

This month's cover story looks at the three largest drugstores in the U.S. (see page 18), which have been on the forefront of offering healthcare services to their customers.

Retail clinics, such as CVS/pharmacy’s MinuteClinic, which offers walk-in healthcare service without an appointment, offer consumers with minor illnesses a convenient option.

According to a Seeking Alpha article, “comprehensive healthcare service providers like CVS are expected to be the largest beneficiaries after certain provisions of Obamacare take effect in early 2014. An expected 30 million people will gain insurance coverage, and they are expected to turn to affordable healthcare options provided by the likes of CVS.”

MinuteClinic launched in 2000 and is now available at about 600 CVS locations across 25 states.

Walgreens Co. offers its in-store Take Care Clinics at more than 700 locations, under Walgreens subsidiary Take Care Health Systems.

In February, for the third time in four years, Walgreens was selected by Fast Company magazine as one of the health care industry’s most innovative companies, as part of the magazine’s “World’s Most Innovative Companies” issue.

In March, Rite Aid expanded its NowClinicOnline Care services to 58 additional Rite Aid pharmacies in Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Rite Aid was the first to provide a virtual clinic in a retail pharmacy setting in 2011, when the company introduced NowClinic Online Care services in nine Detroit pharmacies.

Rite Aid customers can have 10-minute consultations for $45 via video, chat or phone, with doctors who can diagnose and prescribe certain medications.

“Given the rapidly changing healthcare landscape, we believe that telehealth services, such as our NowClinic Online Care service, will play an extremely important role in healthcare of the future,” said Robert Thompson, Rite Aid EVP of Pharmacy in a news release.

It is important for retailers to use their pharmacy programs to promote their OTC private brands.

“I’m sure you’re not surprised to hear that we saw particular strength in cough and cold, allergy, and flu-related sales,” CVS CEO Larry Merlo said, according to transcripts of a call about CVS Caremark’s fourth-quarter earnings from Seeking Alpha.

 To help you with your OTC sales, our cover story also features an in-depth interview with Senior Director, Joni Foley, Sales and Marketing, PL Developments, who explains how to develop your private label OTC products on page 24. 

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