Schnucks Pharmacy: Drug Topics' Chain of the Year 2008

April 14, 2008

Drug Topics profiles Schnucks Pharmacy, chain of the year for 2008

If there is one thing that Schnucks Pharmacy's group VP of fuel and pharmacy, Mike Juergensmeyer, likes to brag about, it is the fact that the chain's pharmacists pamper patients. "We have some very tenured pharmacists who bring a lot to the game and they have great relationships with our customers," said Juergensmeyer.

This St. Louis, Mo.-based supermarket chain offers a wide range of programs, from medicine disposal to free antibiotics, from mammography screenings to the introduction of in-store clinics. These endeavors led Drug Topics to select this stellar player as its Pharmacy Chain of the Year for 2008.

History of the chain

Today there are 100 pharmacies. The chain employs 250 pharmacists and 300 technicians. The average size of the pharmacies is 2,500 sq. ft. The chain operates in seven states: Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Tennessee, and Mississippi. Sixty five of Schnucks' pharmacies are situated in the metro St. Louis area.

Noting that Schnucks has several chains breathing down its neck, including Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart, Kroger, and Dierbergs, Juergensmeyer boasted that in the last year and a half, the chain has seen its script counts increase by 4%. "Sales have continually grown," asserted Juergensmeyer.

The centerpiece of Schnucks' strategy for success is having a staff of dedicated pharmacists who offer a wide array of services that provide value to the pharmacy's customers, explained Juergensmeyer. "We've had a very good relationship in the communities we serve," he said.

Going green

In January Schnucks launched a pilot medicine disposal program called RxMeds Take Back. The program is sponsored by a federal grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Schnucks has partnered with Area Resources for Community and Human Services (ARCHS) and the St. Louis College of Pharmacy as well as several other organizations. RxMeds Take Back enables customers to bring their unused medications to select stores. The program includes liquids, capsules, and powder formulations, but by law excludes narcotics and other controlled substances. "This is a test program to see if we can find out what old medications patients have in their medicine cabinets and to see what our ability is to pull some of these products out of the market," said Juergensmeyer. The program currently has 20 sites. Medications are received at 10 locations on the first of each month and 10 sites receive medications in the middle of the month during three-hour sessions.

Nicole Gattas, Pharm.D., clinical pharmacy coordinator at Schnucks and a professor at the St. Louis College of Pharmacy, heads the pilot program, which will end in November. Gattas said that if patients bring in a controlled substance, the pharmacist records the item and then gives the medication back to the patient with disposal instructions. "We are documenting what people have at home that they are holding onto or that they never finished in the first place. We are coming up with raw data for the EPA to move forward with. We are using students from the St. Louis College of Pharmacy to help us identify and document the medications. The students are learning something new and cutting edge," said Gattas enthusiastically.

Schnucks is also interested in participating in research studies. The chain is partnering with Washington University on a birth control study involving 10,000 women who will receive free birth control. Schnucks will dispense the birth control medication.