New Walgreens Program Blurs Lines Between Pharmacy, Retail - Sachse Construction
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New Walgreens Program Blurs Lines Between Pharmacy, Retail

Walgreens is rolling out a program to help patients better manage all the side effects of cancer treatment. The initiative, which marks the first time the company has blurred the lines between pharmacists and retail employees, comes at a time when Walgreens is competing not only with CVS, but also Amazon’s new drug business.

The Deerfield pharmacy giant’s “Feel More Like You” program launches today in the 3,000 Walgreens stores that staff beauty consultants—including about 500 stores in the Chicago area. A 400-store pilot last year was apparently so well received by patients and customers that Walgreens sped up plans for a national rollout.

More than 15,000 pharmacists and beauty consultants underwent specialized oncology training, as well as empathy training, to learn which products best counteract cancer treatment side effects, such as dry skin and mouth, cracked nails, hair loss and fatigue, said Rina Shah, vice president of pharmacy operations and specialty at Walgreens. Look Good Feel Better, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the Cancer Support Community helped train the Walgreens employees.

In addition to prescription drug reimbursement pressures, CVS’ megamerger with Aetna and Amazon’s pharmacy potential has driven Walgreens to announce a series of cost-cutting initiatives over the last several years. The latest, announced in December, aims to result in savings of more than $1 billion by the end of its third year.

At the same time, the company has entered into a series of partnerships to respond to “the rapidly changing and integrated omnichannel marketplace,” Walgreens CEO Stefano Pessina said during an October conference call with analysts.

Shah says the company’s new “Feel More Like You” program leverages the expertise of both pharmacists and beauty consultants to “ensure we’re rounding out the level of service we can offer to a patient.” Shah said she could see Walgreens expanding the model in the future to other conditions associated with both medical and physical changes, such as diabetes.

“There’s an expertise we’re providing that our patients are really looking for,” she said. “We know with diabetic patients there might be dry skin or other physical changes that a beauty consultant trained in that specific condition can help guide appropriately.”

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