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Kroger to Buy Specialty Drug Firm

CINCINNATI — Kroger on Thursday said it would buy all the outstanding shares of Axium Pharmacy Holdings, a move that will allow Kroger to enter the high-growth specialty pharmacy business.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Axium, based in Lake Mary, Fla., is a specialty firm providing pharmacy services for patients with complex chronic conditions including cancer, hepatitis C, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and numerous other chronic care conditions. Kroger said Axium would operate as an independent company, with its chief executive officer, Mark Montgomery, and its 160 employees joining Kroger.

“Kroger and Axium are a strategic fit as we look to enter the high-growth specialty pharmacy business," Lincoln Lutz, Kroger's vice president of corporate pharmacy, said in a statement. "The combination of Axium's expertise and Kroger's 1,950 pharmacy locations, 91 Little Clinic locations, and pharmacists who provide health coaching, biometric screening and other wellness services will deliver positive health outcomes for our patients, cost savings for insurance payers, and unique services for physicians."

Kroger said specialty pharmacy is the primary area of growth in pharmaceuticals, with revenues of $104 billion in 2011 and projected to grow to $135 billion in 2014.

"This partnership supports Kroger's long-term growth plans, with strong return on invested capital," Rodney McMullen, Kroger's president and chief operating officer, said in a statement.

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