Pharm D & MBA Dual Degree Programs

The PharmD/MBA program allows students to receive both degrees in a shorter amount of time (about 1 year shorter) versus receiving them separately. With both a strong clinical and science background along with the practical business knowledge and experiences gained from the MBA, graduates with dual degrees are strong candidates for entry into the pharmaceutical industry. In addition, many Pharm D/MBA’s go on to run their own successful companies or to work in areas such as drug purchasing in hospitals, PBMs (Pharmacy Benefits Manager), and MCOs (Managed Care Organizations).

It is important to note that you need to first get accepted into the Pharm D (Doctor of Pharmacy) program before applying for the MBA program. Once you are accepted into pharmacy school that has a dual degree option, you have a higher chance of being accepted to the business school (as there aren’t many applicants from pharmacy school and some preference is given because you already were good enough of a candidate for a professional doctorate degree).

Many other dual degrees options worth exploring exist with the Pharm D degree which include the JD, MPH, MS Reg Sci, MS Gerontology, etc.

Here are the pharmacy schools that the Pharm D/MBA program:

Arizona
Pacific
Southern California
Connecticut
Howard
Nova Southeastern
Palm Beach Atlantic
Florida
Mercer
Idaho State
Connecticut
Howard
Nova Southeastern
Palm Beach Atlantic
Florida
Mercer
Idaho State
Butler
Drake
Iowa
Kansas
Sullivan
Kentucky
Maryland
Ferris State
Missouri-Kansas City
Montana
Creighton
Southern Nevada
Buffalo
Albany
Campbell
Wingate
North Dakota State
Ohio State
Duquesne
Philadelphia
Pittsburgh
Wilkes
Rhode Island
South Carolina
Shenandoah
Virginia Commonwealth

Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid – What RE Investors Should Know

There are 3 major drugstore chains in the US: Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid. Below are some key statistics about the 3 major drugstore chains as of 2012:

1. Walgreens ranks first with market cap of $28.51 Billion, $72.2 Billion in 2011 total revenue ($45.1B from prescription revenues), and an S&P rating of A. According to Walgreens, 75% of the US population lives within 3 miles from its stores. In April 2010, it acquired 258 Duane Reade drug stores in New York Metropolitan area which brings a total of 7841 drug stores Walgreens operates as of February 2012, including 137 hospital on-site pharmacies.

2. CVS ranks second with market cap of $56.56 Billion, $107.1 Billion in revenue ($40.5 Billion from CVS prescription revenues and $16.1B from its Caremark prescription mail order revenue), and an S&P rating of BBB+. As of December 31, 2011, CVS operates 7404 drug stores.

3. Rite Aid ranks third (fourth, behind Walmart in terms of prescription revenues) with market cap of $1.49 Billion, $26.1 Billion in revenue ($17.1B from prescription revenues), operates 4714 drug stores as of February 2011 and has an S&P rating of B-.

Investors purchase properties occupied by these drugstore chains for the following reasons:

1. The drugstore business is very recession-insensitive. People need medicine when they are sick, regardless of the state of the economy. Both rich and poor people in the US have access to medicine. Some even argue that low-income people use more medicine due to free or low-cost drugs offered by government-assisted programs. So the tenants should do well during tough time and have money to pay rent to landlords.

2. The drugstore business has a good prospect in the US:

· People are living longer and need more medicine to sustain longevity, e.g. Actonel for osteoporosis, Aricept for Alzheimer’s symptoms. Older people tend to use more medicine than younger ones as they often have more medical problems. As the 78 million baby boomers are getting closer to retiring age starting from 2008, the drugstore chains anticipate the demand for medicine to increase in next 20 years.

· The drug market continues to expand as the US population continues to grow. More and more Americans suffer from various diseases. The number of Americans suffers from seasonal allergies doubled in the last 15 years to 37 million people per Fortune magazine. They spent $5.4 Billion in 2009 for allergy drugs. As their waist lines balloon (75% of Americans are forecasted to be either overweight or obese by 2020), more Americans are diagnosed with diabetes, along with high cholesterol at younger and younger ages. In addition, doctors also recommend treating various diseases sooner than later due to better understanding about the diseases. For example, doctors now prescribe antiretroviral drugs for patients soon after infected with HIV virus instead of waiting for the infection to become AIDS. More doctors combine insulin with oral medicines to treat type-2 Diabetes instead of just oral medicines alone. All these factors increase the size of the drug market.

· Advance in genetic engineering has introduced various new genetic DNA testing kits which allow the genetic diagnosis of vulnerabilities to inherited diseases and disorders. Genetic testing is currently the highest growth segment in the diagnostics industry. Some of these genetic tests will probably transform into direct-to-consumer testing kits available in drug stores in the near future.Upon FDA approval, these new products will potentially bring in additional revenue for drug stores.

· Using a new method of tailoring molecules called structure-based design; drug companies come up with new medicines that they might not have discovered otherwise, e.g. Xalkori by Pfizer to treat lung cancer.

· The passage of Health Care Reform Bill on March 23, 2010 provides insurance coverage to an estimated 33 million more American. This is a great present to the drugstore industry.

· There are new drugs to treat previously untreatable illnesses, and new diseases, e.g. Viagra for men’s unhappiness, Avastin for colon cancer, Herceptin for breast cancer,. The new medicines are very expensive, e.g. a year’s supply of Avastin costs about $55,000. Eli Lilly has sold about $4.8 billion of Zyprexa in 2007 for schizophrenia and yet most people have never heard of this medicine.

· There are existing drugs now approved to treat new illnesses and thus increase their sales revenue. For example, Lyrica was originally intended to treat pain caused by nerve damagein people with diabetes. It is now approved by FDA to treat Fibromyalgia which affects 5.8 million Americans per WebMD.

· Big advances in genetics, biology and stem cells research are expected to produce a new class of drugs to treat diabetes, Parkinson’s and various rare genetic disorders. For example the new drug Ilaris from Novartis targets genetic causes of an inherited disorder that there are only 7000 known cases worldwide. However, Novartis hopes to gradually broaden its drugs to a blockbuster drug to more common disorders caused by similar genetics.

· Technology and modern life introduce and require new products, e.g. pregnancy test kits, Lamisil for stronger clearer toe nails, Latisse for longer & thicker eyelashes, Propecia for male hair loss, Premarin for menopausal symptoms, diabetic monitors, electronic toothbrushes, contact lenses, lenses cleaners, diet pills, vitamins, birth-control pills, IUDs, nutrition supplements and Cholesterol-lowering pills (Americans spent nearly $26B in 2006 on Cholesterol medications alone per IMS Health, a Connecticut-based consulting company that monitors pharmaceutical sales.)

· Before the customers can get to the medicine aisles or pharmacy counters, they have to pass by chocolates, sodas, digital cameras, watches, toys, dolls, beers and wines, cosmetics, video games, flowers, fragrances, and greeting cards. Drug stores hope you use the one-hour photos services there. The stores also carry seasonal items, e.g. Halloween costumes, and “As Seen on TV” merchandise, e.g. Shamwow. As a result, customers buy more than their prescriptions and medicine in these drugstores. CVS reported that non-pharmacy sales represented 30% of the company’s total sales in January of 2007. The figure for Walgreens is 34% and 37% for Rite Aid. Many pharmacy locations are in effect convenience stores especially ones that are in residential or rural areas. And so Walgreens hopes that customers also pick up WD-40, and screwdrivers at its stores instead of at Home Depot; Thai Jasmine rice, and fish sauce to avoid a trip to Safeway or Kroger Supermarkets. During the recession, sales of these non-drug items are down as customers buy what they need and not what they want. Walgreens tries to reduce the number of items by 4000. It also introduces its own private label which has higher profit margins.

· There are more and more generic medications on the market as a number of enormously popular brand-name blockbusters lose their 20-year long patents, e.g. Lipitor (best selling drug in the world to lower cholesterol) in 2010, Viagra (you know what it’s for) in 2012. Drugstores prefer to sell generic drugs to customers due to higher profit margins than the brand-name medications.

· Many people are addicted to pain killers, e.g. Hydrocodone/Oxycodone. Per the DEA in 2012, there are 1.5 million American addicted to cocaine but 7 million addicted to prescription drugs.

· This author estimates that at least 10% of the dispensed prescription drugs are not used at all and sit idle in the medicine cabinets. They are eventually expired and thrown away.

3. These companies sign very long-term NNN leases, guaranteed by their corporate assets. This makes the investment in the underlying property fairly low risk, especially for Walgreens with a S&P “A” rating. In fact, these properties are sometimes referred to as investment-grade properties. Once the drugstore chains sign the lease, they pay the rent promptly and timely. This author is not aware of any properties leased by one of these drugstore chains in which the tenants failed to pay rents. Even when the stores are closed due to weak sales (Walgreens closed 119 stores in 2007), these companies may sublease the properties to other companies, e.g. Advance Auto Parts and continue to pay rents on the master leases.

· A typical Walgreens lease consists of 20-25 year primary term plus 8-10 five-year options. During primary term and options, there will be no rent increases in most of the leases. This is the main disadvantage of investing in Walgreens drugstores.

· A typical CVS lease consists of 20-25 year primary term plus 4-5 five-year options. The rent is normally flat during the primary term and then there is a 2.5%-10% rent increase in each 5-year option.

· A typical Rite Aid lease consists of 20-25 year primary term plus 4-8 five-year options. The lease often has a rent increase every 5-10 years.

Investment Risks

Although the pharmacy business in general is recession-insensitive, there are risks involved in your investment:

1) The main downside about investing in pharmacies is there is little or no rent bump for a long time, e.g. 20-50 years, especially for Walgreens. So the rent is effectively reduced after inflation is factored in. This is one of the main reasons these properties do not appeal to younger investors, especially when the cap rate is low.

2) The 3 drugstore chains now have a new formidable competitor, Walmart. Walmart sells prescription drugs in more than 4000 Walmart, Sam’s Club and Neighborhood Market stores in 49 states. As of 2012, Walmart is the third largest drug retailer with $17.4B in prescription sales, just ahead of Rite Aid with $17.1B in prescription sales. The retail giant is known for launching in 2006 a highly-publicized $4 generic prescription drug program which now sells 350 generic medications for a 30-day supply. The actual number of medications is less as the medications with different strengths are counted as different medications. For example, Metformin 500 mg, 850 mg, and 1000 mg are counted as 3 medications. Walmart probably makes very little profits on these medications if any. However, the marketing campaign–created by Bill Simon, the President and CEO of Walmart US, generates a lot of publicity for Walmart. Walmart hopes to draw customers to its stores with other prescriptions where it has higher profit margins. In an unscientific survey with just one brand-name prescription of Lyrica, this author finds the lowest price at Costco, the highest price at Walgreens and Walmart at the middle. Other drug chains try to counter Walmart in different ways. Target now offers the same 350 generic medications for $4 for a 30-day supply. Walgreens has a Prescription drugs club with membership fee which offers 1400 generic medications for as little as $1/week. CVS says it will match any offers from its competitors.

3) Chief Business Correspondent Rick Newman from US World & News Report predicted that Rite Aid might not survive in 2009. Rite Aid is still around in 2012. The prediction seems to go away in 2012 as Rite Aid as it was able to refinance the long terms debts and sales revenue has increased.

4) Drugs are also sold in thousands of supermarkets, Target stores, and Costco warehouses. However, there are no drive-through windows at these stores or Walmart to conveniently drop off the prescriptions and pick up medicines. Customers will not be able to pick up their prescriptions during lunch hour or after 7PM at Target stores or supermarkets. They need to have membership to buy medicines at Costco. Others may not fill their prescriptions at Walmart because they don’t want to mingle with typical Walmart customers who are in lower income brackets. And some baby boomers don’t want their prescriptions filled at Target or Walmart because there are no comfortable chairs for them to sit down and wait for their medicines.

5) Drugs retail business to some degree is controlled by the Pharmacy Benefits Managers (PBMs). Customers normally get prescription coverage from their health insurance companies, e.g. Blue Cross. These PBM manage prescription benefits on behalf of the insurance companies. In 2012 Walgreens lost a contract valued at over $5 Billion with Express Scripts, a major PBM. Walgreen revenue was immediately fallen in the first quarter of 2012 as Express Scripts customers cannot fill their prescriptions at Walgreens. The PBMs are also in the drugs retail business via mail orders which do not require leasing expensive retail spaces. The prescription mail orders currently capture over 20% market share of the total prescription revenue. Should customers change their prescription purchase habits to mail orders (there is no such evidence in 2012), it could have negative impact to the business of drugstore chains.

6) Many leases in areas with hurricanes and tornadoes are NNN leases with the exception of roof and structure. So if the roof is damaged, you will have to pay for the expenses.

7) The tenant may move to a new location down the road or across the street when the lease expires. This risk is high when the property is located in small town where there is low barrier for entry, i.e. lots of vacant & developable land.

8) The tenant may ask for rent concession to improve its bottom line during tough times. The possibility is higher if the tenant is Rite Aid and if the store has low sales revenue and/or higher than market rent.

9) More Americans are walking away from their prescriptions, especially the most expensive brand-name medicines. This may have negative impact on the sales revenue and profits of drug stores and consequently may cause drug store closures. According to Wolters Kluwer Pharma Solution, a health-care data company, nearly 1 in 10 new prescriptions for brand-name drugs were abandoned by people with commercial health plans in 2010. This is up 88% compared to 4 years ago just before the recession began. This trend is driven in part by higher and higher co-pays for brand name drugs as employers are shifting more insurance costs to their employees.

Among 3 drugstore chains, Walgreens and CVS pharmacies in general have the best locations-at major intersections while Rite Aid has less than premium locations. Walgreens tends to hire only the top graduates from pharmacy schools while Rite Aid settles with bottom graduates to save costs. When possible, all drugstore chains try to fill the prescriptions with generic medications which have higher profit margins.

1) Walgreens: the company was founded in 1901 by Charles Walgreen, Sr. in Chicago. While the company has existed for more than 100 years, most stores are only 5-10 years old. This is the best managed company among the three drugstore chains and also among the most admired public companies in the US. The company has been run by executives with proven track records and hires the top graduates from universities. Due to its superior financial strength–S&P A rating– and premium irreplaceable locations, properties with leases from Walgreens get the highest price per square foot and/or the lowest cap rate among the 3 drugstore chains. In addition, Walgreens gets flat rent or very low rent increases for 20 to 60 years. The cap rate is often in the low 5% to 6.5% range in 2012. Investors who buy Walgreens tend to be more mature, i.e. closer to retirement age. They are looking for a safe investment where it’s more important to get the rent check than to get appreciation. They often compare the returns on their Walgreens investment with the lower returns from US treasury bonds or Certificate of Deposits from banks. Walgreens opened many new stores in 2008 and 2009 and thus you see many new Walgreens stores for sale. It will slow down this expansion in 2010 and beyond and focus on renovation of existing stores instead.

2) CVS Pharmacy: CVS Corporation was founded in 1963 in Lowell, MA by Stanley Goldstein, Sidney Goldstein, and Ralph Hoagland. The name CVS stands for “Consumer Value Stores”. As of 2009, CVS has about 6300 stores in the US, mostly through acquisitions. In 2004, CVS bought 1,200 Eckerd Drugstores mostly in Texas and Florida. In 2006, CVS bought 700 Savon and Osco drugstores mostly in Southern California. And in 2008 CVS acquired 521 Longs Drugs stores in California, Hawaii, Nevada and Arizona for $2.9B dollars. The acquisition of Long Drugs appears to be a good one as it CVS did not have any stores in Northern CA and Arizona. Besides, the price also included real estate. It is also bought Caremark, one of the largest PBMs and changed the corporation name to CVS Caremark. When CVS bought 1,200 Eckerd stores, it formed a single-entity LLC (Limited Liability Company) to own each Eckerd store. Each LLC signs the lease with the property owner. In the event of a default, the owner can only legally go after the assets of the LLC and not from any other CVS-owned assets. Although the owner loses the guaranty security from CVS corporate assets, this author is not aware of any incident where CVS closes a store and does not pay rent.

3) Rite-Aid: Rite Aid was founded by Alex Grass (he just passed away on Aug 27, 2009 at the age of 82) and opened its first store in 1962 as “Thrif D Discount Center” in Scranton, Pennsylvania. It officially incorporated as Rite Aid Corporation and went public in 1968. By the time Alex Grassstepped down as the company’s chairman and chief executive officer in 1995, Rite Aid was the nation’s largest drugstore chain in terms of total stores and No. 2 in terms of revenue. His son, Martin Grass, took over but was ousted in 1999 for overstatement of Rite Aid’s earnings in the late 1990s. Rite Aid is now the weakest financially among the 3 drugstore chains. In 2007, Rite-Aid acquired about 1,850 Brooks and Eckerd drugstores, mostly along the East coast to catch up with Walgreens and CVS. In the process, it added a huge long term debt and is the most leveraged drugstore chain based on its market value. The integration of Brooks and Eckerd did not seem to go well. Revenue from some of these stores went down as much as 20% after they change the sign to Rite Aid. In 2009, Rite-Aid had over 4900 stores and over $26 Billion in revenues. The figures went down in 2010 to 4780 stores and $25.53 billion in revenue. On January 21, 2009 Moody’s Investor Services downgraded Rite Aid from “Caa1” to “Caa2”, eight notches below investment grade. Both ratings are “junk” which indicate very high credit risk. Rite Aid contacted a number of its landlords in 2009 trying to get rent concession to improve the bottom line. In June 2009, Rite Aid successfully completed refinancing $1.9 Billion of its debts. In 2012, Rite Aid benefits from Walgreens contract problem with Express Scripts. Same store sales increased 2.2%, 3.2%, and 3.6% for January, February and March of 2012, respectively. Rite Aid is still losing money in fiscal year 2012 which ended in March 3, 2012. However, it is losing less, $0.43 per share in 2012 versus $0.64 per share in fiscal year 2011. The company expects better outlook in fiscal year 2013.

Things to consider when invested in a pharmacy

If you are interested in investing in a property leased by drugstore chains, here are a few things to consider:

1. If you want a low risk investment, go with Walgreens. In stable or growing areas, the degree of safety is the same whether the property is in California where you get a 5.5% cap or Texas where you may get a 6.5% cap. So, there is no significant advantage to invest in properties in California as the property value is based primarily on the cap rate. In 2012, the offered cap rate for Walgreens seems to come down from 7.5%-8.4% in 2009 to 5.5%-6.5% for new stores.

2. If you are willing to take more risk, then go with Rite-Aid. Some properties outside of California may offer up to 9% cap rate in 2012. However, among the 3 drug chains, Rite Aid has 10.5% chance of going under in 2010. Should it declare bankruptcy, Rite Aid has the option to pick and choose which locations to keep open and which locations to terminate the lease. To minimize the risk that the store is shuttered, choose a location with strong sales and low rent to revenue ratio.

3. Financing should be an important consideration. While the cap rate is lower for Walgreens than Rite Aid, you will be able to get the best rates and terms for Walgreens.

4. If you are not a conservative investor or risk taker, you may want to consider a CVS pharmacy. It has BBB+ S&P credit rating. Its cap rate is higher than Walgreens but lower than Rite Aid. Some leases may offer better rent bumps. On the other hand, some CVS leases, especially for properties in hurricane areas, e.g. Florida are not truly NNN leases where landlords are responsible for the roof and structure. So make sure you adjust the cap rate down accordingly. Some of the CVS locations have onsite Minuteclinic staffed by registered nurses. Since this clinic idea was introduced recently, it’s not clear having a clinic inside CVS is a plus or minus to the bottom line of the store.

5. All 3 drugstore chains have similar requirements. They all want highly visible, standalone, rectangular property around 10,000 – 14,500 SF on a 1.5 – 2 acre lot, preferably at a corner with about 75 – 80 parking spaces in a growing and high traffic location. They all require the property to have a drive-through. Hence, you should avoid purchasing an inline property, i.e. not standalone and property with no drive-through windows. There is a chance that these drugstores may not want to renew the lease unless the property is located in a densely-populated area with no vacant land nearby. In addition, if you acquire a property that does not meet the new requirements, for example a drive-through, you may have a problem getting financing as lenders are aware of these requirements.

6. If the pharmacy is opened 24 hours a day, it is in a better location. Drugstore chains do not open the store 24 hours day unless the location draws customers.

7. Many properties may have a percentage lease, i.e. the landlord can get additional rent when the store’s annual revenue exceeds a certain figure, e.g. $5M. However, the revenue used to compute percentage rent often excludes a page-long list of items, e.g. wine and sodas, tobacco products, items sold after 10 PM, drugs paid by governmental programs. The excluded sales revenue could account for as much as 70% of store’s gross revenue. As a result, this author has seen only 2 stores in which the landlord is able to collect additional percentage rent. The store with a percentage rent is required to report its annual sales to the landlord. As an investors, you want to invest in a store with strong gross sales, e.g. over $500 per square foot a year. In addition, you also want to check the rent to revenue ratio. If the figure is in the 2-4% range, the store is likely to be very profitable so the chance the store is shut down is low.

8. It does not matter how good the tenants are, avoid investing in declining, e.g. Detroit and/or low-income areas or small towns with less than 30,000 residents within 5 miles ring. In a small town, it may be the only drug store in town and captures most of the market share. However, if a competitor opens a new location in the area, revenue may be severely affected. In addition, the tenant can always moves to a new location down the road when the lease expires since there is low barrier to entry in a small town. These properties are easy to buy now and hard to sell later. When the credit market is tight, you may have problems finding a lender to finance these properties.

9. Many properties have an existing loan that the buyer must assume. If you have a 1031 exchange, think twice about buying this property. You should clearly understand loan assumption requirements of the lenders before moving forward. Should you fail to assume the existing loan (assuming an existing loan is a lot more difficult than getting a new loan), you may run out of time for a 1031 exchange and may be liable to pay capital gain.

10. With few exceptions, drugstore chains do not own the stores they occupy for several reasons. Here are just a couple of them:

– They know the pharmacy business but don’t know real estate. Stock investors also don’t want Walgreens to become a real estate investment company.

– Owning the real estate will require them to carry lots of long term debts which is not a brilliant idea for a publicly-traded company.

11. About 10% of the drugstore properties for sale and typically CVS pharmacies require very small amount of equity to acquire, e.g. 10% of the purchase price. However, you are required to assume an existing fully-amortized loan with zero cash flow. That is, all of the rent paid by the tenant must be used to pay down the loan. The cap rate may be in the 7-9% range, and the interest rate on the loan could be attractive in the 5.5% to 6% range. Hence, the investor pays off the loan in 10 to 20 years. However, you have no positive cash flow. This requires you to come up with outside cash to pay income tax on the rental profits (the difference between the rent and mortgage interest). The longer you own the property, the more outside cash you will need to pay income taxes as the mortgage interest will get less and less toward the end. So who would buy this kind of property?

– The investors who have substantial losses from other investment properties. By acquiring this zero cash flow property, they may offset the income from the drugstore tenant against the losses from other investment properties. For example, a property has $105,000 of rental profits a year, and the investor also has losses of $100,000 from other properties. As a result, the combined taxable profits are only $5,000.

– The uninformed investors who fail to consider that they have to raise additional cash to pay income taxes.

Out of the Box Thinking

If you put too much weight on the S&P rating of the tenants, you may end up either taking a lot of risks or passing up good opportunities.

A Good location should be the key in your decision on which drug store to invest in. It’s often said a lousy business should do well at a great location while the best tenant will fail at a lousy location. A Walgreens store that is closed down later on (yes, Walgreens closed 119 stores in 2007) is still a bad investment even though Walgreens continues paying rent on time. So you don’t want to blindly invest in a drug store simply because it has a Walgreens sign on the building.

No company is crazy enough to close a profitable location. It does not take rocket science to understand that a financially-weak company like Rite Aid will make every effort to keep a profitable location open. On the other hand, a financially-strong Walgreens will need justifications to keep an unprofitable location open. So how do you determine if a drug store location is profitable or not if the tenant is not required to disclose its profit & loss statement? The answer is you cannot. However, you can make an educated guess based on the store’s annual gross revenue which is often reported to the landlord as required by the percentage clause in the lease. With the gross revenue, you can determine the rent to income ratio. The lower the ratio, the more likely the store is profitable. For example, if the annual base rent is $250,000 while the store’s gross revenue is $5M then the rent to income ratio is 5%. As a rule of thumb, it’s hard to make a profit if this ratio is more than 8%. So if you see a Rite Aid with 3% rent to income ratio then you know it’s likely a very profitable location. In the event Rite Aid declares bankruptcy, it will keep this location open and continue paying rent. If you see a Rite Aid drug store with 3% rent to income ratio offering 10% cap, chances are it’s a low risk investment with good returns and the tenant will most likely to renew the lease. The weakness of corporate guaranty from Rite Aid is probably not as critical and the risk of having Rite Aid as a tenant is not really that significant.

Drug stores with new 25 years leases tend to sell at lower cap, e.g. 6-7% cap on new stores versus 8.0-8.5% cap on established locations with 5-10 years remaining on the lease. This is because investors are afraid that the tenants may not renew the leases. Unfortunately, lenders also have the same fear! As a result, many lenders will not finance drug stores with 2-3 years left on the leases. The fact that drugstores with new leases have a premium on the price means they have potential of 20% depreciation (buying new at 6% cap and selling at 7.5% cap when the leases have 8 year left). Some investors will not consider investing in drug stores with 5-10 years left on the lease. They might simply ignore the fact that the established stores may be at irreplaceable locations with very strong sales. Tenants simply have no other choices other than renewing the lease.

CVS’ Strategic Gameplan

Industry Overview

As the company to ever create an online pharmacy, CVS has brought a new flavor to the pharmaceutical industry. Currently, Consumer Value Store is #53 of fortune 500 companies. The company operates primarily from prescription drugs sales which accounts for 70% of its total revenues. CVS is actually one of the most pervasive drugstore chains in America; it operates nearly 4,100 facilities, placing it side by side with three of its major competitors, Eckerd, Rite Aid and Walgreens. Within the Consumer Value Store lies PharmaCare, a subsidiary that is considered key to the company’s expansion and profit margin because of diverse managerial tactics it provides to the company.

Company Overview

In the beginning, the first store opened its doors in 1963 selling health and beauty aids. By the end of that same year, the chain grew to 17 stores averaging $3.3 million per year. Since then, the chain has been growing at a rather outstanding rate. Today CVS is successfully operating in well over 32 states and it is still expanding. During most of the 1990s, CVS has separated itself as one of the most well managed chains in the national drug store industry, reaching the 4000 mark and still is growing. The company

Key Competitors

CVS faces challenges from three major competitors. Specifically, Walgreens which holds 38% of market share is expanding at a rate of more than 400 new stores per year. Secondly, Eckerd currently the sixth largest U.S. market at 33% of market share is venturing the Phoenix market which offers long term growth. Finally, Rite Aid Corp with 30% of market share is planning to add around 300 private label SKUs including household chemicals, school supply and garden items just to name a few.

Major Trends in Industry

As a way of reevaluating marketing strategies, CVS is closing some of their stores. Approximately 230 has been shut down so far because it is determined that disassociating from other chain of stores and malls to individual locations will be much more profitable as that not only target tourists, but also regular residents. According the 2004 agenda, CVS plans to start opening stores in Minneapolis, the 10th largest drugstore market in the US, and high traffic areas such as Chicago, Florida, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Texas for expansion.

Marketing

CVS marketing strategies revolve mainly around expansion. As the nations leading pharmacy with stores in more than 32 states, CVS is gradually expanding its chain of stores in Florida. Currently, it has opened two stores in Central Florida, nine in the Tampa Bay area and eight in South Florida. In addition, CVS has several stores under construction including two more in Central Florida, five in Tampa Bay and seven in South Florida. According to the Senior Legal Counsel, Michael B. Nulman, entry into the Florida market has been profitable beyond normal expectations because not only has customer acceptance of the Florida stores been incredible, but sales figures in these new areas have been better than many previous locations.

Marketing Strategy

Altering the format of the stores is another strategy that generates high profit margins. Moving from the convention 9600-square-feet prototype, CVS plan toward bigger and better free-standing facilities resulted in 22 billion dollars in sales and ranked it second of top pharmacy in 2002 among its competitors. As opposed to the smaller stores, the 10,885 and 12,150-square-feet prototypes allow drive-through pick up that simultaneously serve two cars and provide a great deal of convenience which is what the CVS chain is seeking to achieve according to Alfred J. Callegarri Regional Director of Real Estate. Basically, the CVS chain tries to succeed where its competitors have failed.

Products

Along with medicine, CVS sells a variety of other items. As a pharmacy, it sells the very things that one would find at a convenient store. CVS along with a number of supermarkets is responding to customer demands by providing one-stop-shopping and convenience to the shopping experience. According to the Food Marketing Institute, the vast majority of new stores and remodeled ones offer an ever-wider variety of services and products in one place including wine, ATM services and greeting cards just to name a few.

Price

Although CVS product line sells at market price, it manages to attract more customers than its competitors. As a pharmacy, CVS is the only drug store that uses scannable consumer discount cards. Conversely, Rite Aid has a reward program that offers a discount on specific markets, meaning only very few stores participate in that program which renders it largely ineffectual. On the other hand, CVS card-scanning strategy helps it win even the finicky customers. In addition, the pharmacy gives 2% off on non-prescription items and one dollar off every two prescriptions. Finally, the card enables CVS to not only keep track of the buying habits of customers, but to communicate with them more intimately and advertise accordingly.

Distribution Process

It is ironic the way CVS becomes a pharmacy because the owners, the Goldstein brothers, did not have any design on pharmacy. To mention the least, they were not even pharmacist to begin with; they were mere distributors. From 1963 until today, the same distribution model has evolved to make CVS a successful corporation. As a way of managing deliveries from 22,000 different locations, CVS reanalyzes its flow of inbound supply strategies by improving logistics and monitoring inbound shipment in order to prevent order failures. In fact just to strengthen the viability of the plan, the chain anticipates an inventory reduction of approximately 17% over the next 12 months. Unlike some other businesses, CVS follows an expedited distribution program whereby a variety of distribution channels are utilized such as warehouses, the Internet and in some cases certain manufacturers. In fact, last autumn, the chain formed and alliance with Merck Corporation to facilitate a seamless distribution of prescription drugs throughout the country.

Advertising

CVS uses many of the conventional ways of advertising. To begin with, the pharmacy does not handle its own advertising campaign; rather, it works in concert with the Boston-based Inter-public Group to target consumers whereby the most rudimentary methods are used namely radio, ads and TV commercials. Generally, ads are a really effective way to target potential consumers; however, during economic fallouts ad budgets are normally the first to be discarded to reduce expenses. Another strategy the store uses to sell its products is through its layout; that is putting most of the everyday-use items in the front end as well as the very back of the stores that way food, beverages and cosmetics are at the customers fingertip. As a result, the new settings not only attract customers, but they stay longer in the stores and most importantly, they buy more.

Managerial Structure

Structurally, CVS is just like most companies. It follows a pyramidal style of management with the help of a CEO, Tom Ryan, and 9 others that report to his office. Thomas Ryans charismatic leadership revolves around a sense of urgency, openness to new ideas and willingness to embrace change. As a pharmacy, the company prides itself on the ability of its pharmacists and technicians to provide [consumers] with some of the highest-quality care in the industry. Basically, the company has a very autonomous style of management whereby each employee represents the company holistically. Based on that tenet, CVS devotes serious effort to hire competent employees combined with proprietary technology and work-flow enhancement in order to make the drug store more productive and efficient.

In 2001, however, after the company absorbed a lost of more than $130 million during the fourth quarter, the CEO adopted a restructuring plan that guarantees profitable chains selling space and the successful integration of its ProCare specialty pharmacy operation which provides PharmaCare prescription benefits. In addition, the restructuring plan took root at the very top of the organization. Consequently, regulatory supervision of chains top executives along with the other departments becomes more commonplace.

Training Process

At CVS the marketing as well as the training department work closely with each other. The combination is done for many reasons primarily to seamlessly advertise within the stores and to insure that employees have the necessary knowledge of certain products to adequately serve the consumers. Accordingly, the company recognizes its employee needs in terms that they need the right tools, sufficient training and support. As a result, training seminars are frequently under way to keep the employees sharp. Along with constant training, the company is gradually automating some of the basic tasks of pharmacists including electronic telephone refill systems and automatic dispensing machines in order to make pharmacists more available for customer interactions.

Financial Overview

Fundamentally, the chain achieves high levels of profitability by considering several factors namely driving growth and improving productivity. Based on these strategies, the fourth quarter of 2002 can accurately model the chains ability to generate vibrant sales figures even during economic adversities. The same way productivity is an essential component of a company, growth is just as important because before integrating the aforementioned aspects, store sales was nearly flat throughout the chain; however, after incorporating the new tactics sales have climbed about 2.5%, shares have gone 49 cents from 34cents the previous year and net income has skyrocketed by 730% over a two-year period despite the economy and the competitive nature of the pharmaceutical industry.

Liquidity

Throughout the beginning of first quarter of 2003, CVS anticipated an increase in cash flows form operations. As a result of improve working capital management, the chains net cash provided by operating activities jumped from $133.9 to $183.6. Although the increase of $49.7 million in the early stages of the quarter is an interesting move, it will adversely impact the chain because of future lease payment associated with stores shut down as part of the restructuring plan. During the quarter, a cash payment of $6.5 million has been made to offset partly the effects of the restructuring. Based on a long-term perspective, the chains liabilities is bound to extend until 2024 mainly from noncancelable leases totaling $185.6 million.

Throughout the last five years, CVS has been either head to head with its competitors or way ahead of the game. For instance, over a 52-week period there has been relatively small market fluctuations with the highs of approximately 34 points and lows of 22. Currently, the market value of the chain can be estimated at $10,283.5 million which offers 14.4% return of equity, 9.89 cash flow ratio and a 14.5 earnings ratio. In terms of growth, revenue has been increasing rather nicely along the 5-year spectrum. Specifically in 1999, revenue reached 7.4%, three years latter, it went up to 8.5% and subsequently after 5 years it skyrocketed to 12.3%.

Conclusion

CVS is one of the most stable companies within the drug store chain today. Reflecting on the company’s financial statement over the last five years, it has managed to keep a relatively stable flow of income overall and best of all, profit is continuously growing at virtually all levels. Historically speaking, achieving great success was not only the culmination of endless years of painstaking dedications, but it was the devotion to its consumers that seemed to overcome most of the obstacles that stood before its path. Based on that kind of commitment, Consumer Value Store is a great company to invest in because of its loyalty, dedication and stability.

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Callegarri J. Alfred. New Format in Stores for CVS Westfair Com Inc. 23 Nov. 2002. Business & Company. 28 May 2003. http://galenet.galegroup.com.

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Quarterly Report SEC Form 10-Q. Biz Yahoo. 12 May 2003. NYSE. 4 June 203. http://biz.yahoo.com/e/l/C/CVS.html.

How Will Federal Health Care Change $850M in Local Taxes Raised in Florida Health Care Districts?

With the passage of the new federal health care law, what will happen to the $850 million in taxes raised every year by local taxing districts around Florida to support care of the uninsured?

In Palm Beach County, the Health Care District has insurance coverage for the uninsured in Palm Beach County. Approximately 40 thousand residents are covered of a total population of 1.3 million.

The District’s Coordinated Care insurance program picks up where Medicaid leaves off, covering up to 150% of poverty ($16 thousand annual income for an individual). There are no deductibles or co-pays with this program. The District’s Vita Health shared-cost insurance program covers from 150% to 300% of poverty and the District pays for two-thirds of the premiums.

The budget for the Palm Beach County Health Care District is $260 million. They have more than 1,000 employees and 1,500 physician relationships.

Details:

• $155 million, or 60%, of the total budget is from property tax receipts. The millage rate is 1.14 mills with a maximum possible by law of 2.0 mills.

• 40% of the budget is from billing (Medicaid, Medicare, Co-Pays, and Deductibles].

Property owners in the Town of Palm Beach currently pay 6.26% of their property tax bills, or $14,555,449, in Fiscal Year 2010 to the County Health Care District. Those taxes are used for trauma care, school nurses, 5 pharmacies for the uninsured, Lakeside Medical Center (public hospital) in Belle Glade, the long-term care Edward J. Healey Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, and insurance for low-income county residents.

The resident of the town are the largest per capita contributors to property taxes in the county.

So the question is, how much will the Town of Palm Beach property taxes change because of the new federal health care law? Nobody knows yet but it will be interesting to see if the Health Care District lowers taxes or finds other uses for the money.

Take Action To Prevent Skin Cancer – Advice From A Sarasota Florida Dermatologist

The longer I am in practice here in Florida, the more patients I have wanting to learn how prevent skin cancer. There are a number of things one can do to reduce their chance of developing skin cancer, especially non-melanoma skin cancer. The most important action one can take to protect themselves is to minimize your time in the sun. The sun’s rays are most potent between the hours of 10:00 AM to 3:00PM, and direct exposure to these rays should be avoided as much as possible.

Apply sunscreen liberally and frequently when outdoors, this helps to create an extra layer of protection from the sun. I tell my patients to use a sunscreen with at least an SPF 30 that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. The key to applying sunscreen effectively is to use enough to ensure you cover all your skin and remember to reapply it every two hours, even if the sunscreen you use is “waterproof.” Elta sunscreen for the face and Elta sunscreen for the body, with SPF 30, are both available at our office. Neutrogena with helioplex technology and Aveeno both offer great over the counter sunscreens.

In my years of practice I have found that men are at a higher risk of developing skin cancer on the lips then women. This may be due more impart to women wearing sunscreen and lipsticks with SPFs, whereas men never think to put sun protection on their lips. I recommend that both men and women use lip products that include an SPF factor, check your local pharmacy.

It is very important to wear appropriate clothing during prolonged periods in the sun. This may include long sleeve shirts or pants and wide brim hats or ball caps. There are even sun protective clothing lines that use a light, breathable material with Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UCF) to help protect your skin. The UFC factor acts in comparison to the SPF rating for sunscreens. Two companies I recommend to my clients for sun protective clothing are Sun Precautions and Solumbra.

I can’t repeat this enough to my patients, avoid the tanning bed. Both tanning beds and sun lamps have been associated with premature aging and increased risk of skin cancer. I realize we live in the Sunshine state and no one wants to look like a pale polar bear, therefore, our practice has set-up airbrush tanning. This is a safe way to achieve a rich, glowing tan without the risks involved from sun exposure.

Leading by example is the best form of teaching. As I teach my patients how to be proactive against skin cancer, we should all teach our children how they can protect themselves. It is never too early to teach them the safe rules of sun exposure, how to effectively use sunscreen, and how to dress for protection. The majority of skin damage from the sun occurs before the age of 20. It can take as few as one or two blistering childhood sunburns to double the risk of malignant melanoma, the most lethal form of skin cancer.

The last word I leave you with is the best defense against skin cancer…see your dermatologist. I recommend a yearly skin exam from a board certified dermatologist. I’ve seen melanoma on parts of the body that have never even been exposed to the sun. Melanoma is almost always curable if it is caught in the early stages. Your dermatologist can diagnose and treat skin cancer in the earliest stages with regular skin exams.

Bella Piazza Condominiums – Davenport – Orlando – Florida Holiday Rentals – The Top 3 Pros And Cons

The Top 3 Pros and Cons of BELLA PIAZZA CONDOMINIUMS, ORLANDO, FLORIDA, USA

THE TOP 3 PROS:

The Accommodation: Bella Piazza Condominiums are 2, 3 and 4 Bedroom offering absolutely ideal ‘home-away-from-home’ holiday accommodation. They are perfect for a small family unit and provide visitors with spacious, nicely planned units which have modern furnishings and decoration with open plan living and dining, fully equipped kitchens with granite surfaces, ceiling fans, wi-fi, TV in each bedroom, utility cupboards, master bedrooms with en-suite bathroom with bath tub and separate shower and each 2 and 3 Bed Condo having a bathroom for each bedroom. Each unit has either a generously sized patio or balcony with seating provided. TIP: A limited number of poolside units are available for holiday rental and it might be worthwhile trying to find one for your visit. The Condo buildings are 3 Storey with elevators. The combination of the excellent family accommodation, the local facilities being so close and the attractive on-site amenities make Bella Piazza one of the best choices of places to stay for an Orlando holiday base. The drive to and from the Disney area is about 20 minutes each way and there are numerous ‘stopping places’ along the way along Highway 27 and 192.

The On-Site Amenities: There is a Clubhouse with a lounge, well equipped fitness facility, library, games room and computers with complimentary wi-fi. The swimming pool areas are attractively and spaciously laid out in such a way as to create a relaxing and tropical ambience with the two resort style pools (heated seasonally) offering extensive sun-decking with plenty of sun-loungers and casual seating with tables and chairs – including a covered area, jacuzzi spa and a separate children’s gated water playground. In addition there are two outdoor kitchen areas and BBQ grills. The recreation areas sit amid the condominium buildings and overall can be highly commended.

The local facilities nearby: Bella Piazza has the handy convenience of the units being within an easy walking distance (4-5 minutes) of numerous local facilities which consist of a few restaurants including Applebees, several small cafes, a Fish and Chip shop, Ice Cream Shop, Pizza place; Publix Supermarket, bank, pharmacy, liquor store, gas station and a very traditional Irish pub. Pretty much everything anyone could want is there for you. There is also an excellent golf course nearby at Highlands Reserve and within a 5 minute drive north is a large Walmart supermarket.

THE TOP 3 CONS:

Driving to and from Kissimmee and Orlando: Whilst the location is a good one, as stated above, it is not in the central area of the Orlando area and you may find driving to and fro repetitive and something you don’t want to do. The Disney area is around 20 minutes each way and getting to the International Drive area probably 25/30 minutes and the North I-Drive area including Universal Resort more likely to be 35 minutes. You have to decide this is too much – it entirely depends on how many days you plan to go the Parks and which ones. However, it is quite feasible to stay at Bella Piazza as a base and visit the Orlando Theme Parks – there are benefits of returning ‘home’ to a quiet area away from the hustle and bustle and at times over-crowding in Orlando. NB: This is not a gated community.

Noise: The walls in the units are slightly on the thin side so noise from other nearby units can be annoying, but this is a common problem with most Orlando condo style accommodation. Also if you are in a unit nearer to Highway 27 then the constant traffic hum can be another irritation. The ground floor units have the A/C units within close proximity which could be a source of annoyance. All the more reason to look for a rental unit in one of the buildings near to the resort facilities, on an upper floor and an end unit if you can find one.

Special Requests: If you reserve a ‘generic’ unit (one that is allocated on arrival) through either a Tour Operator as part of a travel package or Agent and ‘requesting’ a preferred type of unit and then ‘expecting’ to get it – chances are you won’t and you will be disappointed. The preferred units are usually booked by those customers booking specific units so are unlikely to be available.

IN SUMMARY:

Bella Piazza is a well-maintained condominium community with excellent self-catering accommodation, on-site leisure amenities and nearby local facilities – and within a reasonable driving distance of the Orlando attractions. It can be highly recommended as offering very suitable family accommodation at a ‘homely’ resort. NB: It is not suitable to anyone without a rental vehicle, which is a ‘must have’.

TO MAKE AN ENQUIRY OR ONLINE BOOKING:

Deal A Trip Holiday Rentals has a selection of over 500+ Orlando Holiday Rentals and a good choice of indidividual units at Bella Piazza bookable online at Bella Piazza Condominiums

Any advice please contact us by telephone, email or use our chatline. Rentals can be booked a year in advance so if you have specific dates in mind and see the perfect unit for you please book early! Secure on-line payments via PayPal.

Illegal Business Arrangements in Health Care Abound in Florida – Beware of These

In certain health professions, there is a statutory or other prohibition the health professional’s working for any clinic or organization not owned and controlled completely by members of that profession.

For dentists, optometrists and chiropractors there are specific statutory prohibitions on any member of that profession practicing his or her specialty while working for a group, practice or organization that is owned or controlled by one who is not a member of that profession. These laws, a different one for each specialty, make it a felony to do so, as well as grounds for discipline against the professional’s license. It is considered to be a separate felony offense for each day.

The main exceptions for these prohibitions include, for example, working for a hospital, working for a federal health care clinic, working for a not-for-profit charity health care clinic, and other limited exceptions.

Revoked License, Licensed in Another State But Not in Florida, Suspended License, All Treated the Same.

We have seen cases in which a dentist or chiropractor licensed in another state, but not in Florida, owned or operated a dental or chiropractic clinic in Florida. This would be prohibited, of course.

In other cases, we have seen health professionals who have had their licenses revoked continue to own and operate or even “lease out” their practices to others. The ownership or control of the practice by one with a revoked license would also be illegal.

We have seen cases in which a spouse or child of a deceased physician has continued to own and operate a clinic after the health professional died, when he or she was not a health professional. This is illegal from the day the health professional died and there is no “grace period.”

Health Care Clinics and Pain Management Clinics.

In cases in which a member of the profession is allowed to work for a group, practice, clinic, corporation or other business entity that is not owned by health professionals, then that organization (again, with certain exceptions) is required to obtain a health care clinic license from the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA). Professionals other than dentists, chiropractors and optometrists, could work, for example, for a corporation (corp.) or limited liability company (LLC) owned by an accountant and a businessman, as long as it had a valid health care clinic license. Owning, operating or working for an unlicensed health care clinic which would be required by Florida law to be licensed, is a felony offense.

If you are a physician, nurse practitioner, other license health professional, you need to check the business’s licensure status with AHCA to make sure it is current and valid, before going to work there.

Additional situations include pain clinics and other types of health practices which constitute “risky” areas of practice. If you are not aware of the almost daily occurrences of physicians getting busted, pharmacists getting arrested, and pharmacies and pain clinics being searched, closed and shuttered, you’re not reading the newspapers or watching TV. Usually pain clinics are required to be licensed as health care clinics by AHCA and as pain medicine clinics by the Department of Health (DOH). However, a regular medical practice is exempt from those requirements (with certain exceptions, of course).

We have encountered situations where a good physician is recruited into a very questionable practice setting by unscrupulous nonprofessionals who are merely using him or her. Everything is placed in the physician’s name.

On paper it appears the physician is running a legitimate medical practice. However, behind the scenes, the physician actually controls nothing. It is clear that the whole setup is just a shell for a phony medical practice, set up solely to skirt the law and avoid licensure.

We have seen medical practices and dental practices where a nonprofessional business person has control of all of the billings and collections, the employees, the bank accounts and all of the records. The physician does not have control of anything, not even the practice’s bank account. We have encountered several situations where the physician does not even have passwords to his/her own computers and software or keys to his/her own office. We believe that such situations are sham operations set up to avoid statutory requirements. A physician would be well warned to stay away from such situations.

Beware of Schemes to Get Around the Law.

We have seen many cases where individuals, including lawyers and business people, have attempted to get creative to come up with schemes to try to get around the laws. Often there may be a legal way to create an arrangement between licensed health professionals and unlicensed business people, to accomplish their goals, especially related to financial arrangements.

However, we have also seen many such schemes that were clearly illegal and meant to just put a facade on an obviously illegal arrangement. When the criminal authorities start to investigate the behind-the-scenes people disappear, leaving the physician to pay the price. A physician or health care provider should have any such business arrangement reviewed in detail by a board certified health lawyer before he or she gets involved with it. If you are thinking about investing in such a practice or arrangement, then we strongly recommend that you obtain an opinion letter from a board certified health lawyer as to the legality of the situation or arrangement.

Beware of Schemes to Use Your Billing Number or Medicare Provider Number.

We have also been consulted on a number of occasions by physicians who were contacted by business people starting clinics allegedly seeking a “medical director” for their clinic, offering the physician a large amount of money without having to perform any real work. However, they just need to use the physician’s Medicare number to bill with for a few months until their Medicare number is approved. Such enterprises usually turn out to be Medicare billing fraud schemes. The company uses the physician’s Medicare number to bill for hundreds or thousands of physician patient visits in patient’s homes, nursing homes or assisted living facilities (ALFs) that never occur. When Medicare stops paying and starts investigating, the ones behind the scheme disappear and leave the physician holding the bag.

Avoid such schemes. Avoid any situation where someone else “needs” to use your Medicare number for services that you are not actually performing yourself. If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You will wind up paying a heavy price later on if you fall for it.

There are Many Illegal Situations Which Carry Significant Penalties.

Many of the above situations can result in criminal prosecutions. In addition, these are also usually grounds for discipline on a health professional’s license. In many cases, all fees collected while operating illegally must be refunded. In the case where pain management is involved, the penalties are much higher than in other situations. Where Medicare and Medicaid patients or billings may be involved, the risks of criminal prosecution and very large monetary penalties are much greater.

Need For Drug Rehab Spurred By Internet Pharmacies

In some states, Florida, for example, you can’t buy over-the-counter cough medicine without showing ID and being logged into the system, but you can buy OxyContin over the Internet anytime and from any location without even having a prescription. Internet prescription sites may be convenient for many of us, but the ease with which drugs can be obtained gives serious cause for concern. In fact, the number of people needing drug rehab for prescription drugs is now close to those using street drugs.

Since 1992 prescription drug abuse has increased by 94%. At the end of 2004 there were more individuals reporting prescription drug abuse than the combined number of individuals abusing cocaine, hallucinogens, inhalants, and heroin. Of particular concern is that one in five teens have reported abusing prescription drugs with over 80% having used an opioid such as OxyContin or Vicodin. Without drug rehab, opioid prescription drugs can be just as hard to kick as heroin.

The problem is that over half of these kids believe that getting high from prescription medicine is much safer than street drugs, and three out of ten see nothing wrong with abusing prescription medication ‘once in a while.’

These kids also believe that prescription medication isn’t addictive. It’s a grave misconception and one that has sent an increasing number of individuals into drug rehab centers. More and more websites are setting up shop and profiting off this very misconception.

From 2004 to 2006 the number of sites selling prescription drugs increased over 20%. The danger: 89% of these pharmacies have no prescription requirements and only 11% state the need for a prescription. Of the sites requesting a prescription, 90% allow it to be faxed in essentially opening the door to forgery as well as multiple submissions to different pharmacies using the same prescription.

Additionally, of the Internet pharmacies that require no prescription, 30% boldly state that one is not required, 60% offer an online consultation which is nothing more than an online questionnaire on which you can supply whatever information your want, true or false, and 10% make no mention of a prescription at all.

With this type of access, a fifteen-year-old with an ATM card can order prescription medication from home in the middle of the week, request overnight delivery and have it in time for the party on the weekend. And it’s been done.

Researchers with Beau Dietal and Associates conducted an experiment wherein a thirteen-year-old was supervised while ordering Ritalin over the Internet. All information was filled out by the individual including her true weight, height, and age. Her order was processed and she received the Ritalin. How many kids are going to develop a prescription drug addiction this way? And how many are going to need drug rehab, or wind up in the ER or the morgue?

Obviously, some serious regulations need to be placed on Internet pharmacies and there are many agencies working to combat the problem. But because the access is so easy, and abuse too common, we must also educate our children about the dangers of prescription drug abuse just as one would with illicit street drugs such as heroin or cocaine. Statistically, kids whose parents talk to them about drugs are 50% less likely to use them. Talk to your kids, and you may be able to avoid the need for a drug rehab program in the future.

College – University of Florida

The University of Florida is a public college and land-grant institution located in Gainesville, Florida. It is currently the fourth largest university in the United States with 49,693 students accompanied by the eighth largest budget. A notable academic college, University of Florida ranks 1st in the state and 16th among all public universities nationwide. Recognized as one of the Public Ivies and a member of the Association of American Universities, the school is ranked 57th among the world’s top 500 universities.

Although the university claims to be founded in 1853, the campus that exists today in Gainesville was actually founded in 1905. The Buckman Act created the current University of Florida by removing funding for existing educational institutions, including the University of Florida at Lake City, the East Florida Seminary in Gainesville, the St. Petersburg Normal and Industrial School at St. Petersburg and the South Florida Military College at Bartow. The first classes began on September 26, 1906, on the new campus that was built in Gainesville. The alligator was chosen as the universities mascot in 1911. The Buckman Act also established the University of Florida as the only public school in Florida for white males. Enrollment for females began in 1947 and the enrollment for African-American students began in 1958.

University of Florida is divided into 16 colleges, which offer 100 undergraduate majors and 200 graduate degrees, including the only dentistry, pharmacy and veterinary medicine programs offered publicly in the state. The acceptance rate at the school has gone downward as a result of the applicants becoming more competitive. In 2005, the average incoming freshman had a grade-point average of 3.9, a score of 1340 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test and an American College Test score of 29. Undergraduate tuition for Florida residents is around $120 per credit-hour, while it is $520 per credit-hour for out-of-state students, with a typical accumulation of 30 credits per year. The Freshman Class of 2005 ranked number one in the nation in terms of National Merit enrollment, enrolling more National Merit Scholars than any other university. A full tuition academic scholarship is awarded to all National Merit Scholars admitted to university. The University of Florida is also home to an Honors College that offers many honors courses to students who obtained high scores on their “SAT” and “ACT” tests. The Honors program lasts for a student’s first two years, but Honors program services and courses remain available to upperclassmen. The university also was 13th among all universities public and private in the number of U.S. Patents awarded in 2000.

Florida dedicates about $44 million per year to its sports teams and facilities. This could be due to having swept, For the sixth time, the overall men’s and women’s Southeastern Conference All-Sports Trophy in 2002 as well as ranking among the nation’s top 10 athletic departments for 19 straight years. The football team won a national championship in 1996 and the men’s basketball team won their first national championship this year. The Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is a great place to catch a Florida Gaters football game if you live in Florida. This school is among the top in the nation academically as well as athletically, therefore being a smart choice for any high-school graduate.

How Can Florida Stop Its Alarming Prescription Drug Addiction and Abuse?

Are you worried about your kids or someone else in your family taking prescription drugs? You should be – especially if you live in the state of Florida, the pill capital of the U.S. Why is Florida worse off than other states? One major reason is that, unlike many other states, Florida doesn’t have a system to track who’s being prescribed what.

This opens the door to ‘doctor shopping’ – going from one doctor to another, making up stories about symptoms so the ‘patient’ can get painkillers, tranquilizers, and so on – whatever they want, really. And neither the doctors nor the pharmacists who fill these prescriptions have any idea that the patient got the same drug from five other doctors and five other pharmacies earlier that day.

Not only do those ‘patients’ have a prescription drug problem, they’re probably also selling the pills to others who, if they’re not addicted already, may soon be.

What can you do about it? First, check in with Bill Janes, the director of the Florida Office of Drug Control. Janes has been pushing hard to get the state to participate in the prescription drug monitoring program so many states have already adopted.

The program gives doctors, pharmacists and other health professionals, as well as law enforcement and regulatory agencies, computer access to information about prescriptions being written and filled.

When someone goes to a pharmacy to fill their next prescription for OxyContin, for example, the pharmacist can check the person’s history in the computer database.

Likewise, doctors who get a new patient complaining of pain can check the same database.

If the records the doctor or pharmacist see indicate drug addiction or abuse, they can refuse to prescribe the drug or fill the prescription and can counsel the patient on getting help through a drug addiction treatment center.

If the pharmacist or doctor sees that the person is getting far more drugs than he alone could consume, the authorities can be notified and check into whether or not the person is selling the drugs to others.

Worried about your privacy? In Missouri the bill they passed for prescription drug monitoring also included restrictions on which drugs are reported, only those with a potential for abuse are in there, as well as limiting who would have access to the database and severe penalties for inappropriate disclosure of the information.

When you contact Mr. Janes’ office, make sure