Fewer drug opportunities; more “market” concentration

From the 13 September Washington Post

NEW YORK — Walgreen Co. made an offer late Friday to buy Longs Drug Stores Corp. for $2.8 billion, hoping to unseat a rival offer from CVS Caremark Corp. that Longs had already accepted.

[ . . . ]

Walgreen, the nation’s largest drugstore chain by sales, has 6,356 stores nationwide. The company has said its goal is to have 7,000 stores by 2010.

Longs has more than 500 stores, mostly in California, but also in Hawaii, Nevada and Arizona. The company also owns Rx America, a prescription benefits management program with more than 8 million members.

I recognize that size has its benefits: Wal*Mart has, for instance, its highly touted (by Wal*Mart) four-dollar-prescription plan (However great it truly is, I’m not sure; the store increase business by doing this, but fails, still, to provide decent coverage for its employees. Hmm.). However, have we lost a sense of what we lose when Walgreen has a store (or two!) on every corner, when the people with whom we do business actually reside in our communities and keep their profits in our communities, generating robust, somewhat-self-sustaining local economies? Yes, we have; I know this. It troubles me deeply, for reasons cultural, social, economical, and political.

Update: On a semi-, but non-drug, related note, now Bank of America seeks to purchase Merrill Lynch. The goliath had sought to purchase the struggling Lehman Brothers, but lost interested upon learning that it, likely, would not receive financial aid from the Federal government.

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