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    Walgreens' central fill program to go national

    Walgreens is expanding a central fill program, first launched in Florida, nationwide. The program, called POWER, for Pharmacy Optimization Within Enterprise Re-engineering, has already been expanded into Arizona. The company hopes to have all of its 7,000-plus locations in the program within three to five years.

    "By the end of the fiscal year, all of our Florida locations will be using POWER," said Walgreens spokeswoman Tiffani Washington. "This could be game- changing in terms of the perception of pharmacy and pharmacists in health care." While most major drug chains have tested central fill programs, Walgreens appears to be the first to take the concept national, said industry consultant Robert Coopman. He created a central fill program for Texas-based H.E. Butt Grocery Company. "Walgreens could be a tipping point for central fill," Coopman said. "They have done a great job of getting prescriptions out the door of individual stores. But at some point, you start to choke at the store level. Central fill gives you higher volume through an existing footprint without expansion."

    Fred Gebhart, Contributing Editor
    Contributing Editor Fred Gebhart works all over the world as a freelance writer and editor, but his home base is in San Francisco.