Chains' fresh bag of tricks

January 9, 2006

Drug chains have some aces up their sleeves to draw more traffic.

At A Glance

In front of a squeaky clean counter, a beauty adviser is helping a woman find the perfect shade of foundation. In another area, a man is having his throat cultured for strep. At another counter, a young woman is receiving a personalized skin profile utilizing state-of-the-art skin analysis. In the front of the store, a grandmother who lives in Florida is picking up photos that her daughter in New York uploaded on a Web site only an hour ago. These are just a few of the innovative services taking place at pharmacy chains nationwide.

Chains, clinics tie the knot

One tactic intended to boost sales has pharmacy chains opening in-store clinics staffed by nurse practitioners. The clinics are intended to provide patients with quick access to affordable health care. They typically charge between $25 and $60 a visit and offer patients access to routine medical services, screenings, and immunizations. Appointments are not required, and the clinics are usually open during pharmacy hours including evenings and weekends.

CVS has teamed up with Minnesota-based MinuteClinic to open MinuteClinics in many of its stores. Commenting on this marriage, Chris Bodine, executive VP of merchandising at CVS, said, "MinuteClinic offers customers convenient, high-quality healthcare services and is a natural extension of our mission to be the easiest pharmacy retailer for customers to use."

In July, Rite Aid signed an agreement with Take Care Health Systems and then launched Take Care Health Centers in 10 Rite Aid stores in Portland, Ore., in November. Jody Cook, Rite Aid spokeswoman, said, "Based on the success of those clinics, there are plans to open similar clinics in other Rite Aid markets. It's a very synergistic fit to have walk-in healthcare clinics in a pharmacy setting so our patients can take care of their health."

In July, Duane Reade, a leading chain in the New York City metropolitan area, announced it has teamed with Houston-based InterFit Health, a provider of health screening services, to open RediClinics in four of its stores. Patients can make appointments in advance on-line or by calling a toll-free number.

In August, Albertson's announced an agreement with Take Care Health Systems to conduct a test of its in-store Health Centers in six Osco Drug Stores in the Greater Kansas City market.

In September Brooks/Eckerd Pharmacy entered into an agreement with Take Care Health Systems to open Take Care Centers in the company's stores in multiple markets throughout the 18 East Coast states where Brooks/Eckerd operates.