WAUKESHA, Wis. -- Fleming Cos. Milwaukee division here is taking a concept adopted for the most part by drug stores and rolling it out to in-store supermarket pharmacies.
Seventeen of Fleming's Wisconsin units with Sentry pharmacies will become the first supermarkets to roll out San Francisco-based McKesson HBOC's latest diabetes merchandising program called the "Diabetes Life Center," according to officials of the pharmaceuticals-supply company. The agreement with Fleming Cos., announced this fall, is in addition to 200 independent pharmacies that have also signed up for the program. Two more freestanding Sentry pharmacies will also offer the service.
"A priority goal of our company is to offer quality clinical services to our customers," said Paul Hoffman, division sales manager for retail pharmacy at Fleming, in a press statement. "All 19 stores in the Wisconsin market have been enrolled and are starting to promote this program to the diabetic population." Hoffman could not be reached for further comment.
McKesson officials would not provide details of the deal with Fleming, citing that the agreement is still too new. "The agreement with Fleming is in its initial stages," said Jim Ayers, vice president of managed care for McKesson, "but we have varying levels and it's extremely flexible."
Officials at McKesson called the program a "comprehensive total-care center for people with diabetes." It was designed as a turnkey program for diabetes products, education and services. In addition to providing marketing and merchandising tools like signage, the program involves training pharmacists who are then able to counsel patients, helping them to comply with their physician-prescribed treatment program. "It allows our customers to establish their stores as destinations for diabetics," said Ayers. It includes a planogram for merchandising products for diabetics, a counseling area and signs that broadcast "We are your Diabetes Life Centers."
McKesson has always provided products and services for diabetics, but this program is an enhancement, pointed out Nancy Shuler, a McKesson sales manager. The difference, she said, is that pharmacies with the program "can let the community know they are No. 1 in answering questions and concerns, and that they have all the pieces that go along. Previously [diabetics] might not have been buying supplies there."
The department creates a synergy of one-stop shopping that includes professional guidance, Shuler said. Additionally, "customers are aware that they can consult professionals." The intent, according to Ayers, "is to concentrate the focus of all different aspects -- training the pharmacists on glucose meters and insulin and consolidating all expertise and information."
Ayers and Shuler both said that increased sales have been observed in stores containing Diabetes Life Centers. "We have no accurate data but the perception is that there have been increased prescriptions and incremental sales in sugarless products," Shuler said.