Attorney General Cuomo Announces Settlement To Ensure Prescription Drug Price Competition

NEW YORK, NY (June 4, 2007) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a settlement requiring Rite Aid Corp, Inc., the nation's third largest retail drug store chain, to sell 26 stores to competitors, including eight stores in New York State.

The divestitures are the result of a multistate investigation led by New York State Attorney General Cuomo's office. The investigation was triggered by Rite Aid's announcement to purchase about 1,850 Eckerd and Brooks stores and six distribution centers mainly on the East Coast from Jean Coutu Group (PJC), its Canadian parent. The nearly $3 billion cash-and-stock acquisition gives Rite Aid control over 5,000 stores nationwide.

"Consumers, especially seniors and the uninsured, will benefit from the lower prices, wider choices, and increased customer service that will result from the vital competition generated by placing the divested chain drug stores under new ownership," said Cuomo "Those paying out-of-pocket for needed medicines will be able to comparison shop for the lowest price and keep their drug costs affordable."

In New York State, the investigation found that in some parts of Western and Central New York, Rite Aid and Eckerd were often the only chain drug store alternatives for cash payers. The settlement requires Rite Aid to divest these stores, and for the first time a Walgreens, Medicine Shoppe, or Kinney will open in these communities.

"An effective way to restore competition and help keep rising prescription drug prices down is to empower consumers to shop for the best price for needed medicines," said Cuomo.

Cuomo's office has found prices for the same medication can vary widely among drug stores in a neighborhood and consumers can achieve significant savings depending on where their drug purchases are made. The office maintains a prescription drug price comparison website that enables consumers to search and find the lowest price for needed medications.

For example:
  • Allegra D (dosage: 20 mg; quantity: 60) a commonly prescribed allergy drug was $96.50 at Kinney, $120.95 at Medicine Shoppe, $129.99 at Rite Aid, and $131.99 at Walgreens. Consumers can potentially save about $ 35.49 per prescription.
  • Zocor (dosage: 20mg; quantity: 30) frequently prescribed cholesterol reducing drug is $153.99 at Walgreens, $162.99 at Rite Aid, $165.95 at Medicine Shoppe and $170.05 at Kinney. Consumers can potentially save about $16.06 per prescription.
  • Advair (dosage: 250/50mg; quantity: 60mg) a commonly prescribed drug for asthma, was $210.99 at Rite Aid, $213.95 at Medicine Shoppe, $215.55 at Kinney and $226.99 at Walgreens. Consumers can potentially save about $15.20 per prescription.
  • Flovent (dosage: 220mcg/A; quantity: 13) frequently prescribed for asthma and lung diseases, was $12.60 at Medicine Shoppe, $19.99 at Rite Aid, $21.95 at Kinney, $26.99 at Walgreens. Consumers can potentially save about $14.39 per prescription.

The multistate investigation of the proposed merger led by New York included Maine, Maryland New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Virginia. Additionally, the states' investigation was coordinated with the Federal Trade Commission. Under the terms of the state settlement, Rite Aid must sell 26 stores to competing drug store operators, including eight stores in New York.

Cuomo thanked the FTC for the detailed cooperation and coordination that existed throughout the investigation. "We are partners with the FTC in ensuring consumers enjoy the benefits of competition," said Cuomo.

The investigation was conducted and the settlement was negotiated by Director of Litigation Bob Hubbard and Assistant Attorney General Amy McFarlane of the Attorney General's Antitrust Bureau.

The stores affected in New York State are:

Rite Aids:

3242 Route 39, Yorkshire, NY 14173 (Cattaraugus County)
261 Utica Boulevard, Boonville, NY 13309 (Oneida County)
2156 Grand Island Blvd, Grand Island, NY 14072 (Erie County)
#2 Price Chopper Plaza, Mechanicville, NY 12118 (Saratoga County)
941 State Route 17C, Owego, NY 13827 (Tioga County)

Eckerds:

45 Hadjis Way, # 2, Lake Placid, NY 12946 (Essex County)
12 Bank Street, Leroy NY 14482 (Genesse County)

Rite Aid, 10 North Main Street, Wellsville, NY 14895 or Eckerd, 10 Bolivar Road, Wellsville, NY 14895 at the discretion of Rite Aid. (Allegany County)

To search and compare prescription drug prices in your area, visit www.NYAGrx.org

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