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Supermarkets Eye Express Scripts Business

ST. LOUIS — Supermarket operators are preparing for an uptick in pharmacy business as Walgreens was scheduled to end its contract with pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts on Jan. 1.

Supervalu's Shop 'n Save division here said it was "enhancing its pharmacy services" to accommodate former Express Script pharmacy patients, following reports that other area supermarket chains — including Schnucks and Dierbergs — were doing the same.

"Many Express Scripts patients may be concerned that they will not have a pharmacy to fill their prescriptions at the start of the new year," said Chris Basler, Shop 'n Save pharmacy district manager, in a prepared release. "We want these patients to know that we welcome the opportunity to serve them and that, with 34 pharmacies, Shop 'n Save has the resources to meet their needs."

The company said it would hire additional pharmacy staff and "make other accommodations as needed."

Meanwhile Hen House Markets in Kansas City, Kan., on Friday was offering $20 in free groceries to customers who transfer their prescription to the 11-store supermarket chain.

"Attention Express Scripts Patients: If you are having problems getting your Express Scripts Prescription Plans filled at your local pharmacy, come on over, we can fill them for you," the company posted on its Facebook page.

Walgreens in a December conference call with analysts said it expected the loss of the Express Scripts business to reduce its pharmacy sales by about 1% to 3% in 2012, vs. 2011.

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